HC Deb 02 May 2001 vol 367 cc640-1W
Mr. Peter Bottomley

To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire (Mr. Kirkwood), representing the House of Commons Commission, (1) when the Commission was advised of assessments by(a) the House personnel staff and (b) formal staff inspections of the overworking in the Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards; [159203]

(2) what the policy of the Commission is on acting on assessments of overload in support staff to departments of the House and in the Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards; [159204]

(3) if he will estimate the under-resourcing of staff assisting the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards; when the Commission was informed of the problem; what information it has on it; and if he will make a statement on the publication of this information. [159202]

Mr. Kirkwood

Officials carried out a preliminary review of the staffing of the Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards in spring 2000, because of concerns which had arisen over the office's work load. The outcome of this work was reported to the House of Commons Commission on 3 July 2000, and temporary additional secretarial support was provided, pending a more thorough review of work load to be carried out by the staff inspector from the internal review service (IRS).

The findings of the IRS review were reported to the Commission late in 2000. The Commission referred the matter to the Finance and Services Committee whose advice was considered and agreed to in April 2001. The Committee's advice was that the case for permanent additional staffing had not been clearly established, and that the work load should be monitored over the early months of a new Parliament to ascertain what the long-term needs were. The temporary additional secretarial support would remain in place for the time being.

Commission meetings are deliberative and it is not the practice to publish papers relating to them.

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