§ Mr. Barry Field
To ask the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed, as representing the House of Commons Commission, when the firm responsible for preparing verbatim reports of minutes of evidence taken before Select Committees was appointed; what opportunities have been given to other firms to provide this service; and on what basis the charges payable to the firm are determined.
§ Mr. Beith
The appointment of a shorthand writer to the Houses of Parliament is made by the Clerk of the Parliaments and the Clerk of the House of Commons pursuant to Resolutions agreed to by both Houses in 1813. The present incumbent, like her predecessors since that time, is the senior partner in the firm of W. B. Gurney and Sons. The structure of charges for parliamentary work is renegotiated periodically: such a review took place in 1989, and a further one, initiated by the Clerks of both Houses, is currently in progress. These reviews take into account the likely cost and efficiency of alternative suppliers of this service. Interim adjustments to the level of charges are made by reference to the fees negotiated by the Institute of Shortland Writers with Her Majesty's Treasury for Government work.