Parliamentary Counsel Office
The Office of the Clerk’s closest working relationship with an outside body is with the Parliamentary Counsel Office. This is the office principally responsible for drafting Government legislation. Its ministerial head is the Attorney-General. The office is responsible for printing and reprinting bills as they pass through the House, and for the publishing of Acts. It also compiles, prints, and reprints New Zealand’s series of statutes and statutory regulations. Parliamentary counsel provide drafting services for select committees considering Government bills, and may, with the Attorney-General’s authority, also provide drafting services for members’ bills. Counsel work closely with select committee staff and the staff of the Table Office.
This close collaboration isimportant for ensuring the proper form of legislation and the accuracy of bills reprinted during their passage. The Table Office staff also work closely with the Parliamentary Counsel Office, as the legislative printer, on the availability of Ministers’ amendments and the planning of the supply of legislation for the House—in particular, on the availability of bills for their next stage in the House. This relationship with the Office of the Clerk is formalised through a service-level agreement.
Control of the grounds on which Parliament buildings stand is vested in the Speaker under the Parliamentary Service Act 2000. The actual management and administration of the complex is undertaken by the Parliamentary Service, headed by a general manager. Like the Office of the Clerk, the Parliamentary Service is not a public service department and is not part of the executive.
The Parliamentary Service Commission acts as an advisory body to the Speaker on the services to be provided to the House and its members and on the criteria for funding entitlements for parliamentary purposes. The Speaker chairs the commission ex officio, and the Leader of the House and the Leader of the Opposition, or their nominees, are automatically members. The commission also has a number of other members who represent the parties present in Parliament. When ex officio and automatic membership is taken into account, the practical effect of the formula for party membership is to give
each of the major parties two members on the commission, and the minor parties one member each.
The Office of the Clerk has close relationships with the Parliamentary Service with regard to general administrative, facilities, and library services, and on accommodation matters. Service-level agreements between the two agencies cover such matters as, for instance, the provision of legal services to the Parliamentary Service by the Office of the Clerk, and the receipt of certain financial services by the Office of the Clerk from the Parliamentary Service.
Officers of Parliament
The Office of the Clerk also works closely with the Officers of Parliament: the Controller and Auditor-General, the Ombudsmen, and the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment. Officers of Parliament are independent statutory officers, appointed by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the House. They report to the House and may provide assistance to committees.
The Auditor-General’s office regularly provides advice to committees in their annual examinations of the estimates, and on their financial reviews of the performance and current operations of departments, Crown entities, State enterprises, and other public organisations. Committee staff work closely with the Auditor-General’s staff at these times. The Auditor-General may also provide specialist assistance to committees for their inquiries.
Until the 1870s the parliamentary complex was not only the home of Parliament but also the centre of Government administration. Although Government departments have long since moved from the parliamentary complex, Ministers and some of their support staff remain. Since 1979 Ministers’ offices have been established in the Executive Wing of Parliament House, known as “the Beehive”. This wing also contains part of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and ministerial staff employed by the Ministerial Services and Secretariat Support Branch of the Department of Internal Affairs. The Office of the Clerk maintains regular contact with the executive branch of Government in the form of Ministers, their offices, and their departments as they promote bills or otherwise interact with Parliament in, for example, answering parliamentary questions.