It's <%=formatdatetime((now),vblongdate)%>

The Members and Peers Staff Association

Page last updated: 22 February 2012

MAPSA Newsletter – February 2012

Dear Member

Following on from our November newsletter, I am pleased to say that it has been another busy few months for MAPSA and we have been involved with a varied range of meetings in the House, alongside advising individual members on employment matters. In no particular order, here are the highlights!

Procedure Select Committee

On 11th January I appeared on behalf of MAPSA before the Procedure Select Committee and give evidence to its consultation on sitting hours and the Parliamentary calendar. Click here to read the transcript. (PDF 124KB)

Whilst most of the discussion centred around the potential effects of any changes to the House Staff, I and Max Friedman from UNITE talked about family friendly hours and the possible effects on our staff who do not have fixed hours and rotas, and are therefore more liable to be taken advantage of if late sittings return with more frequency. Hopefully our views were taken on board and all staff involved will be continue to be fully consulted before any major changes occur.

MAPSA submission to the Annual Review of the MP's Scheme of Expenses and Costs 2011/12

I hope members managed to get their own submissions in too, but meantime click here to read ours in response to IPSA's consultation document. (PDF 16KB) Obviously, our main bid, along with all the other staff organisations, was for an increase in the staffing budget so, we shall find out very soon if we have been successful.

Meeting with Ken Olisa, IPSA Board Member

On 10th January we, along with Representatives of UNITE, and the Labour, Tory and Lib Dem staff organisations, met with Ken Olisa who is a member of the IPSA Board. Although we are now fairly plugged in to the IPSA team this is the first time we have formally met a member of the Board, and we were all very impressed with his interest and understanding of our points of view and we covered a wide range of topics - all of which are covered in the submission above.

Meeting with Representatives of the Vote Office

Just before Xmas, Gill Cheesman and I met with representatives of the Vote Office with regard to the Savings Programme and how they could make their services better, in particular with regard to how they deal with staff and our requirements.

Whilst this is to be an ongoing consultation with all staff groups, our initial thoughts were that the main problem was lack of communication and also the lack of a decent website! If the intranet was better, we could use it more effectively and then not rely so much on paper based documents from the Vote Office - although recognising some MPs and staff will always prefer paper! Some of the questions raised were incorporated into the Staff Survey which I hope you all completed but, if you have any particular comments on this area, please let us know.

Meeting with staff from the Communications Directorate

A few weeks ago I met with Vasillis and Marianne regarding Members Staff and internal communication. We are not going to be allowed to send round emails to all on the Parliamentary system but we will be able to provide information and a link to our page on W4MP on the weekly "Dates for Your Diary" email that the Communications Department send round so that should really increase our profile, and I will try and do that after recess in order to reach the maximum number of people. If anyone has any ideas how to use this particular means of communication to the best of our ability, please get in touch!

Bank Account

After one aborted, and indeed very cold, attempt to set up the new account Julie and I have now signed our lives away and the new Lloyds account (which is the only one that does not charge for the privilege of looking after our money) should be up and running shortly.

Meeting with ParliOut

Jo Baker and Alex Hernandez met with representatives of ParliOut, the new body representing LGBT staff to see how we could work together with them.

Catering

I met with Liz Crotty to look at the Catering Services now that the Savings Programme is under way, and they plan to meet more regularly so we can feed in (no pun intended!) to the process and see how members feel about the changes in the Catering and Banqueting services.

That’s all for now,

Sian Norris-Copson

Chair, MAPSA


Message from the Chair, Sian Norris-Copson to MAPSA members. 7th November 2011

Savings Programme and Staff Consultation -
Deadline for your response: Friday 11 November.


The House of Commons Commission is committed to reducing the cost of the House Service by at least 17% by 2014/15. Last year the Management Board consulted on a package of initial savings which amount to £12 million for this year, rising to £17 million by 2014/15. We recently had a meeting with the Director of Resources, Andrew Walker, and have been asked for our views on their proposals.

The consultation document sets out the Management Board’s direction of travel for achieving further savings and can be seen at: http://intranet.parliament.uk/Documents/intranet/offices-departments/OCE/Comms/Savings-Consulation-Document-oct11.pdf

The aim for this stage is that, by examining what services are really needed and how they can best be provided, it will be possible to provide services which are not only less costly but also more effective. That will only be achieved if the Commission hears your views on how the proposed changes will affect staff, and your thoughts on any additional ideas for savings.

It is therefore vital therefore that as many MAPSA members as possible engage with the consultation process and contribute their views both individually (by email to communicationsoce@parliament.uk or by post to Central Communications Team, Office of Chief Executive, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA) and via MAPSA.

The consultation deadline is this Friday 11th November so, if you wish to send some thoughts for our submission, please can you do so by end Thursday 10that the latest. Again please send directly to me on norriscopsons@parliament.uk.

Committee on Members Expenses

Thank you for your thoughts on the Committee. Please click here to read our submission.

Lisa Townsend and I appeared before the Committee last Thursday morning and, if you really want to (!), you can see our evidence session here: http://www.parliamentlive.tv/.  Alternatively, the uncorrected transcript of our session is on the Committee’s website. (Please note, that although the evidence was taken in public, because it is uncorrected the final form of its publication has not yet been approved by the Committee)

It was well worth doing and we made the Committee aware of the problems we have with operating the expenses system, and brought up several issues they had not come across before so we look forward the Committee’s final report and conclusions.

Commons View - Issue 3, October 2011

We were asked to contribute towards the new edition of Commons View, the e-newsletter for Members’ staff provided by the House of Commons Service, and this is available online. Click here (on the intranet) to view the new edition.

If you would like to offer feedback, submit an article for inclusion in future editions or for ideas how to improve House services available to Members’ staff, contact communicationsoce@parliament.uk.

Personnel Advice

As you have no doubt discovered, HR and personnel advice is one of those grey areas currently not provided either by the House or IPSA. We are working on getting this resolved but, in the meantime you might like to know that there is a service available for Members with HR queries and, on a very limited basis to others. If you do have any personnel issues, and would prefer us to raise this on your behalf, please let me know.

For information the intranet link is http://intranet.parliament.uk/employment/house-of-commons/conditions-of-service/members-staff/personnel-advice-service/.

Mentoring

It has been suggested that MAPSA set up a mentoring scheme for new members of staff to help them find their way around, use IPSA and just provide a helpful resource. If anyone would be interested in being a mentor or if you know of any new members of staff who would like to be helped out, then please let me know.

Internet and Email Security

There seem to be an increasing number of cases of MPs asking for access to their staff’s email and internet accounts, and UNITE have been told about this too. If you do know of any examples of this can you let us know as, although an MP technically owns the data for any parliamentary account in their office, they still have to tell staff this and it would seem most don’t. It may become a big issue so any information would be useful.

Thank you all for continuing with your MAPSA membership, please stay involved and “watch this space” for information about forthcoming socials including visits to Number 10 and Xmas Drinks.


Patron: The Speaker of the House of Commons 

The Members and Peers Staff Association (MAPSA) is the successor organisation to the Secretaries and Assistants Council (SAAC).

MAPSA aims to further the interests of all staff, whether members or not, and acts a channel between them and Members, Peers, Officers and Departments of the House. We have achieved many improvements in working conditions including the introduction of pensions for all staff of MPs and, more recently, we successfully opposed the proposed introduction of central employment for staff.

We are in constant contact with IPSA about improving terms and conditions for Members' staff as the new system continues to bed in and are heavily involved in the current staffing consultation.

Under the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), signed with the House Authorities and UNITE, we are consulted on areas of direct interest to all staff, including security, health and safety and the environment. We are also invited to contribute to House of Commons Committee investigations and our submissions to both the House of Commons Commission and the Committee on Standards in Public Life can be read online here and the transcript of the evidence we gave to the Kelly Commission is also available online here.

We also gave evidence to the Administration Committee regarding changes in Catering, and are involved with future consultations on the Parliamentary Standards Act. MAPSA holds regular meetings as well as organising social events and visits to places of interest both inside and outside the Houses of Parliament. If you are interested in joining us, and helping to improve working conditions for staff, membership is open to everyone working for a Member of Parliament or a Peer, including staff members working in constituency offices.

Membership is just £1 per year and more information is available from our Membership Secretary, Alexandra Hernandez (hernandeza@parliament.uk)

The Members of the Executive are:

President

Gill Cheeseman

3540

Chair

Siân Norris-Copson

0356

Secretary Bridget Beechey 3448

Vice-Chairs

Labour:             Julie Spencer

3580

Conservative:    Iain Corby

0932

Lib Dem:           Jo Baker

5162

Treasurer

Julie Spencer

3580

Social Officer

Lisa Townsend

8715

Membership Sec

Alexandra Hernandez

6233

Check out other groups staff can join here.