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Members' Priority Access

Volume 475: debated on Thursday 1 May 2008

The Petition of Members and staff of the House of Commons and others,

Declares that the Petitioners are astonished at the announcement made on the 9th October 2007 that hon. Members should have priority access to services throughout the Commons part of the Parliamentary Estate. The Petitioners agree that such an approach may be expedient during a division, but not everywhere all the time. The Petitioners consider that this announcement serves to create a rigid two-tier system which is counter to an enlightened image of Parliament and further believe that there is merit in a general presumption of equality on the Parliamentary Estate

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons ask the Administration Committee and Sergeant at Arms to reconsider their decision.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Lembit Öpik, Official Report, 22 January 2008; Vol. 470, c. 1470 .] [P000112]

Observations from the House of Commons Commission:

An announcement was made on 9 October 2007 that Members should have priority access to services throughout the Commons part of the Parliamentary Estate. This was as a result of a recommendation by the Administration Committee after discussions about the inadequate enforcement of regulations on access to facilities. The intention of the Committee’s recommendation was that Members should have the opportunity to take priority at service points if they asked rather than that they should be given automatic priority at all times. Mr. Speaker agreed to the recommendation.

The Chairman of the Administration Committee attended a meeting on 16 October convened by representatives of Members’ staff to discuss the implementation of the Committee’s recommendations. There was a high turnout, including staff working for Members of all parties, as well as House staff, and representatives of trade unions. It was a valuable meeting at which views were expressed both about the substance of the recommendations and the way in which they had been communicated.

The Committee accepts that strong feelings have been provoked on the part of staff and unions but it is not intending to change the recommendation at present, and the Commission does not plan to amend the policy. The Administration Committee has agreed that it will review the operation of the Members’ Priority Access policy in twelve months’ time.