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House of Commons: Strategic Direction

Volume 679: debated on Thursday 10 September 2020

Setting a strategy for the House of Commons service is a responsibility of the House of Commons Commission under the House of Commons (Administration) Act 1978, as amended by the House of Commons Commission Act 2015, which states:

“The Commission must from time to time set strategic priorities and objectives in connection with services provided by the House Departments.”

As with many of its functions, the Commission delegates preparation of the draft House service strategy to the Commons Executive Board. The present strategy for the House of Commons service was considered by the then Administration and Finance Committees and agreed by the then Commission in 2019.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that very full answer. I think it is clear that the strategy running the House of Commons has, perhaps unintentionally, diluted the focus of those we charge with running this place and, I believe, is at risk of adversely affecting both our culture and our ethos here. This is a serious place of business, now more than ever—we are putting in place laws for the future of our communities and our country—not a hospitality or a tourism venue. Will the Commission take this opportunity of a pause in business as usual completely to rethink the focus of its strategy and, importantly, look at how we embed the culture and ethos so important to the running of this place?

The right hon. Lady raises a number of very important issues that are at the heart of the consideration of the current House of Commons Commission. Can I just say to her that there is no impediment at all to Members bringing forward suggestions on how the House strategy is designed and improved? We would encourage Members to come forward to the House of Commons Commission to share their thoughts if they believe that improvements can be made. More engagement from Members is always a good thing, and their advice and input are key to making sure we get the services we need. We know Members are always busy, and the administration is working in new ways to engage Members in tailoring services for the House, and we now have a new head of Member engagement and a new customer services director. Any changes to the House of Commons Commission, as the right hon. Lady does know herself, would be a matter for this House.