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The resolution confirms that the Conference will be chaired by the Speaker. He is to appoint up to 14 members, all MPs. The Speaker can appoint one or more members to act as vice-Chair in his absence.

The Conference is to make recommendations on the contractual arrangements for the employment of MPs’ staff.

It will be appointed for the remainder of the Parliament but it is required to publish a report describing the principles underpinning its work by 31 October 2022.

The Speaker set out why he thought a review of the employment arrangements for MPs’ staff was necessary in an article in the Guardian, on 30 April 2022. The Speaker wrote:

I believe it is time we reviewed our working practices, and particularly whether it is right that MPs are the employers of their staff. Should someone else – or an outside body – employ the staff, as long as the MP gets to choose them?

This would mean that all new staff would be employed on standard terms and conditions. In addition, if a staff member wanted to report a serious breach of employment practice against an MP, they would not have to go to that same MP to make that report, and less serious complaints and grievances could be resolved more quickly. For MPs, they would not have to add the responsibilities of being a small employer to an already important and demanding job – and would have formal support in managing their staff.

Previous Speaker’s Conferences

There have been six previous Speaker’s Conferences. The Library briefing, Speaker’s Conferences, gives the background to the previous Speaker’s Conferences.

The first five conferences were established to attempt to seek cross-party agreement to franchise and electoral reform, including redistribution of seats. 

The last conference, in 2008-09, concerned parliamentary representation. Its reports are available on the parliamentary website:

Review of the employment of MPs’ staff (2009)

In April 2009, the House agreed with a government proposal that MPs’ staff should be employed by the House and referred the matter to the House of Commons Commission to make recommendations on implementing the decision.

Although the Commission set out recommendations for implementing the House’s proposals, in its report, Employment of Members’ staff by the House (PDF), it did not commend its scheme to the House for the following reasons:

  • it would have heavy costs;
  • it would secure no clear benefits;
  • it would place Members’ staff in an ambiguous employment relationship; and
  • it would significantly reduce the flexibility Members currently have to manage their staff.

Instead, it said that “Our preference would be for the House (or if appropriate the IPSA) instead to give greater support to Members as employers”.

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