MAPSA Winter 2014-15

MAPSA Newsletter

This newsletter was sent to MAPSA members on October 23

New starters

I am aware that a number of people have asked whether we will be running another new starters event in the near future. MAPSA won’t be holding one this side of the Election, however the House is starting to run their own induction training days and these can be booked via the new learning management website ‘Act’, along with a wide range of other training courses available for Members’ staff. The next induction day is on the 26th November and can be booked here: https://parliament.learningpool.com/login/index.php

Dissolution

In place of our new starters event we will be holding at least one event on ‘Dissolution: what it really means for MPs’ staff’. The first one will be at 2pm on 13th November in the Jubilee Room. This event will be run on a first come, first served basis as the Jubilee Room has limited capacity and any extra names will then be first on the list for the next event in the New Year.

This will be your opportunity to hear from IPSA, PICT, the Serjeant at Arms and the Personnel Advisory Service about the processes and rules surrounding dissolution, access arrangements, IT do’s and don’ts, expenses, salaries and a wide range of other issues. It will also be your chance to ask any questions you may have and give you a point of contact for any further discussions.

If you would like to attend this event please reply to this email with your name and who you work for. We appreciate this is short notice for those in constituency offices, however we will circulate information afterwards and give you as much notice as possible for the next event.

Social events

We have a number of social events coming up and Adam will be in touch with further details in the near future, however look out for a tour of the Elizabeth ‘Big Ben’ Tower, private tour of the Parliamentary Archives and more opportunities to visit the BBC and have a go at reading the news or weather! The recent tour of the V&A Wedding Dresses exhibition was a particular highlight and everyone who attended had a fabulous morning.

Tours

The Tours office have been taking on board the comments we have made about booking arrangements and are putting a number of changes in place. The most important of these is probably the opening time for bookings: tour bookings are now accepted from midday on the first working day of the month.

You may also want to read the update about Tours during dissolution and the State Opening 2015:http://intranet.parliament.uk/access-buildings/exhibitions-tours/tours-during-dissolution-and-state-opening/

IPSA 

You may have seen the latest newsletter from IPSA which contains a couple of pieces of useful information, particularly the fact that MPs can now use the Payment Card to purchase any item within the MPs’ Scheme of Business Costs and Expenses.

Finally, some of you have noted that the MPs’ Scheme of Business Costs and Expenses is too long to digest. While we must of course have a comprehensive document to describe the Scheme in detail, I agree that a short summary would be helpful both for MPs and your staff. So we have produced a 10-page summary that describes the main features of the Scheme and explains some of the rationale behind it. Here is the link to that Summary on our website – Summary of the Scheme. This document is not a replacement for the Scheme, but is intended to be an accessible and quick guide to it.

Intranet 

Did you know there is a Staff page on the Intranet? No? We didn’t either! It is hidden away here –http://intranet.parliament.uk/people-offices/offices-departments/commons-departments/oce/publications-guidance/new-members-staff-portal/

However it is going to be updated and made more prominent so what would you like to see on it? Suggestions so far have included links to tour information, room bookings, details of the Employee helpline, Dissolution guidance etc. Do let me know if you have any suggestions we can feed back.

PICT Online 

A new button has appeared on all our computer screens, linking to ‘PICT Online’.  Parliamentary ICT (PICT) have launched a new online service designed to make it quicker, easier and more convenient for you to contact us.  You will be able to search for help, log a call, request new services and track the progress of your open cases, as well as see live status information of key services, details of forthcoming planned maintenance and other news from PICT. This is also now available to use from the constituency.

PICT Online enables you to do the following without having to call the Service Desk:

  • Log a request or non-urgent issue 24/7 directly from your computer
  • Check the progress of your calls and add updates if required
  • View live service updates of key services
  • Search PICT knowledge for help and advice
  • See details of forthcoming planned maintenance

Digital security

If the internet is part of your work and personal life, as it is for nearly everyone, there are precautions you should take to keep yourself and Parliament protected against online (cyber) threats.

‘How to Be a Good Digital Citizen’ is collaborative initiative between Parliament and Get Safe Online (a government sponsored organisation which provides expert advice on information security).  All Members of the Commons and their staff are invited to find out more at a series of drop-in clinics, where specialists from Parliamentary ICT and Get Safe Online will be on hand to offer advice on securing devices (including smartphones, laptops and tablets), using email safely, managing passwords, using ICT in public places, using social networks, adding additional security, using Wi-Fi securely and deleting information/disposing of devices.

All of these issues will be even more relevant during the dissolution period so if you are interested in talking to PICT please come along to PICT Local in PCH, between 12:45pm to 2:45pm, every Wednesday now and 10th December.

Something to read from one of MAPSA’s members:

Treason is a hanging offence…

As Conservative Party leader Rodney Richmond lies in a coma, his ambitious deputy Colin Scott vows to force unquestioning loyalty to himself on a party which is at breaking point. Dubbed ‘the Führer’ by Labour MPs, his core supporters – including a morally conflicted colleague and an obsessed, ruthless advisor – will do anything to get their man, and themselves, to the top. But there is a threat from within, one so determined they will resort to murder before they see Scott fail, and soon civil war erupts among Scott’s most senior lieutenants.  While the true leader of the so-called ‘resistance’ remains unconscious, their female rising star emerges to challenge Scott’s seemingly unbreakable and brutal authority.

Power Play continues the theme of corrupting power and infighting at the heart of E J Greenway’s first novel, Party Games. It is a wry look at what could happen if a modern day political party, finding itself in Opposition after years in power, embraces a narcissistic maniac who promises to bring it back from the brink at any cost.

Although Power Play is the dramatic sequel to Party Games, it can be read as a stand-alone book and is available at http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00O75RIZ4/?tag=bookl00c-21