MPs & Peers Staff Association – latest news

Page last updated: 4 December 2013

MAPSA Winter Newsletter

You can read this newsletter on the MAPSA page on w4mp

Dear Colleague

It’s been a really busy few months for MAPSA and so we wanted to let you know what we’ve been up to as well as what’s coming up in the New Year.

The MAPSA Committee has a few new faces and you’ll find their details below – please do get in touch with either myself or any other member of the Committee if you have any questions, comments or news that you’d like to share.  We’re always here to offer help and advice and you can get in touch with any one of us but I know that often you’d rather speak to someone from your own political party and so you’ll find the details of each of our political VCs below.

I have really enjoyed meeting so many of you over the last year at our events and trips and hope that you’ll be able to join us for some of the exciting social events that Adam has planned for next year.

Finally, if you’ve not renewed your membership this year (or are unsure about whether or not you’re a current member) then please get in touch with Katharine (katharine.pearce@parliament.uk) who will be able to send you a form – MAPSA membership is still at the incredibly competitive austerity rate of just £1 a year!

Wishing you a merry Christmas and a very happy New Year from all the MAPSA Committee,

Lisa Townsend

MAPSA Chairman

House Departments

Much of the work that MAPSA does takes place behind the scenes and Georgina Kester has been incredibly busy on your behalf over the last year meeting with everyone from Catering through to the Pass Office and MSVO.

Catering

You should have noticed some of the recent and welcome changes to the access arrangements which mean that staffers can now take guests into the Adjournment during the week as well as better access to the Churchill Room. If there are any issues you’d like us to raise with the Catering Department then please get in touch with Georgina (georgina.kester@parliament.uk).

Pass Office / Security

Georgina and I recently met with the Pass Office and were really encouraged to hear that they aim for a turnaround time for pass applications is 5 working days but this is largely dependent on the volume of applications as well as receiving full applications from those applying. You can help this by ensuring that all sections of the form are completed and that your passport and proof of address are included in your initial application.  A few other points from the Pass Office that will help ensure the service runs smoothly:

  • Your pass is an official document and must be produced and worn at all times within the Estate
  • Ensure your pass is on display whilst on the Estate. Take it off when leaving
  • Do not give your pass to someone else to use
  • If escorting guests, make sure you are with them at all times and escort them off the estate
  • Take care of your pass, but if you lose it, please report to the Pass Office asap
  • Your pass MUST be surrendered on termination of appointment or expiry and handed back to the Pass Office.
  • IT security – Make sure you log on and off the computer you are using and do not allow anyone else to use your login details
  • Interns from abroad, even if they are only spending a few days, unpaid, in your office, are considered as ‘working’ for UKBA’s purposes.  This means that unless they are here on a working visa they will not be able to apply for a Parliamentary pass.

Georgina and I also meet regularly with the Serjeant at Arms who is very keen to extend access to passholders of all levels and we have been discussing ways in which we can make it easier for you to show constituents and others around the Estate.  I am also aware that many of you would like to be able to take your interns and work experience staff onto the Terrace during recess and that the current regulations make this difficult.  The SAA is very happy to help facilitate this so if you have an intern (that does not have a pass) and would like them to be able to join you for lunch on the Terrace during the warmer months then please drop me an email at lisa.townsend@parliament.uk and I will speak with the SAA Office to get them clearance for this.

Relaunch of Education website

October saw the relaunch of Parliament’s website for schools, which contains free resources for political literacy teaching, information about Parliament’s education outreach programme, and details of how to bring schools to visit Parliament.  See www.parliament.uk/education

The new website has a new design, larger images and videos, more prominent information about the Education outreach programme, and a new filtering tool enabling teachers to find resources suitable for the subject and age group that they teach, at the click of a button.

Parliament’s Education Service runs a range of programmes for your local schools to take part in. More details are available on the Parliamentary intranet at http://intranet.parliament.uk/education, on the website at www.parliament.uk/education and on Twitter @UKParlEducation.

To help schools make the most of these programmes, Parliament’s Education Service welcomes tweets, links and other communication with schools to let them know about the free resources available to them.  Please email educationwebsite@parliament.uk if you would like to be sent the Education Service logo or any other educational resources for your website, or for any further information.

Westminster Staff Open Day Questionnaire

The Central Communications team in the Office of the Chief Executive runs regular open days for staff based in the constituencies. As a result of feedback, and following requests from staff in Westminster, they are looking into the possibility of offering a similar open day for Members’ staff based in Westminster.

In order to ensure that they provide the most useful and relevant information, we would be grateful if you could take a few minutes to complete this survey, by Friday 13 December.

Volunteers Wanted!

Georgina is seeking volunteers to join a small group for a one-off meeting in the New Year with the Table Office, Journal Office and Public Bills Office to help them better understand what it is we do and how they can assist us.  I am assured there will be biscuits.  If you or anyone you know would like to get involved then please send an email to Georgina.kester@parliament.uk

IPSA

IPSA has been in operation for almost four years and while I know that no-one enjoys dealing with the new expenses regime I hope that like me you have noticed some real improvements since the service first started.  MAPSA is very proud of the role it has played in relaying your concerns to the team at IPSA and we continue to work closely with them to ensure that the process is as painless as possible.

Emily Knight met with IPSA recently and the following points came out of the meeting:

  • The MPs’ Pay and Pensions consultation ended recently.  IPSA received 3,500 online and 600 written submissions.  As well as the responses that one might expect there were a good number of reasoned, detailed ideas, especially on pensions.  The vast majority of the public seem to be in favour of anything involving a cut and (unsurprisingly) less favourable to any kind of rise in pay for MPs. IPSA will need some time to get through these responses and will report in due course.
  • IPSA is currently reviewing the way they publicise information and will look into further ways they can emphasise the separate nature of staffing and other expenses incurred by MPs to discourage the media lumping the two figures together.  They would welcome staff views on this and we will be in touch again soon about ways in which you can get involved in this.
  • The annual review of the scheme will launch soon and will be the last prior to the 2015 General election.  IPSA are particularly keen want to look at the intern element of staffing in more detail.

If you have any comments or issues with IPSA, please get in touch with either myself or Emily (emily.knight@parliament.uk) and we will do our best to get it resolved.

Events and Trips

It has been great to see so many of you join us for tours of Westminster Abbey, the BBC and the National Theatre.  The trips to the BritishMuseum were incredibly popular and we hope to visit again next year.  Adam is currently in the process of arranging a further visit to Broadcasting House and we have also been invited to Radio 1 – more details in the New Year.   I know that many of you have been waiting for the announcement of another trip to Number 10 and that is something we are trying to negotiate with the team there.

As always, if you have any comments or suggestions then please get in touch with Adam: adam.chambers@parliament.uk

Survey

I will be in touch again in the New Year to ask what you as MAPSA members and staffers want to see us doing more of – whether it’s social events, speaker briefings or updates from the House Departments. We are particularly keen to get the views of staff in constituency offices as we are aware that they are an often neglected group.

MAPSA Committee Members

Gill Cheeseman President cheesemang@parliament.uk
Lisa Townsend Chairman lisa.townsend@parliament.uk
Benjamin Clayton Labour Vice Chairman and Lords’ staff VC benjamin.clayton@parliament.uk
Alexandra Hernandez Liberal Democrat VC hernandeza@parliament.uk
Emily Knight Conservative VC emily.knight@parliament.uk
Georgina Kester Facilities Representative georgina.kester@parliament.uk
Julie Spencer Treasurer spencerj@parliament.uk
Adam Chambers Events Secretary adam.chambers@parliament.uk
Katharine Pearce Membership Secretary katharine.pearce@parliament.uk