The House of Commons Commission and the Members Estimate Committee

The Commission is the supervisory body of the administration, responsible for the House’s finances and the employer of almost all its staff. Set up under the House of Commons (Administration) Act 1978, it is chaired by the Speaker; its other members are the Leader of the House, a member nominated by the Leader of the Opposition (in practice, always the Shadow Leader of the House), and three senior backbenchers, one from each of the main parties. The Commission operates in a wholly non-party way; in any event, it has never had a majority of government members. Established in 1978, it now falls short of modern governance expectations; for example, it so far has no independent external members, which would be best practice today.

The Commission meets monthly. Its meetings are private, usually with senior staff who are responsible for the subject under discussion; but it posts its minutes on the Internet and also publishes an annual report that is a mine of information about the activities of the House administration, its plans and performance. One member of the Commission acts as its spokesman and answers written parliamentary questions on its behalf, as well as oral questions in the Chamber once a month. The Members

Estimate Committee has the same membership as the Commission, and its role is to oversee the Members Estimate (see below).

The Commission is advised by two select committees of MPs: the Finance and Services Committee considers major items of expenditure, and financial and business plans; the Administration Committee advises on services more generally.

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