House of Commons Governance Committee releases report

The House of Commons Governance Committee (on which Oliver sat) published its Report yesterday. The Committee was set up by the House of Commons after a debate on the 10th of September 2014 in response to the recent controversy over the appointment of a new Clerk of the House of Commons, and the disagreement over exactly what that role should entail. Sir Oliver was elected to the Committee by fellow Conservative MPs to be one of their three-member allocation of seats on the eight-member panel. Chaired by Jack Straw MP, the Committee was to ‘consider the governance of the House of Commons, including the future allocation of the responsibilities for House services currently exercised by the Clerk of the House and Chief Executive’.

The Committee’s main conclusions were:

·         The House of Commons Commission should have an additional explicit statutory responsibility: to set the strategic framework for the provision of services to the House, its Members and the public;
·         To support this enhanced role, and to reflect wider principles of good governance, its membership should be:
1.   The current ex officio members (Speaker (Chair), Leader of the House, Shadow Leader of the House);
2.   Four backbench members elected by the whole House and drawn one each from the three largest parties and the remaining Members;
3.   Two external members;
4.   Two official members.
·         The Clerk of the House should remain Head of the House service, appointed by Letters Patent, but should not also be titled Chief Executive.
·         A new post of Director General of the House of Commons should be created, reporting to the Clerk but with clearly delineated autonomous responsibilities for the delivery of services.
·         The ‘paused’ recruitment process for Clerk of the House/Chief Executive should be formally terminated.
·         We propose new recruitment processes for the Clerk of the House and the Director General of the House of Commons which are in line with modern recruitment practice.

The Report can be viewed here.