HC Deb 16 December 1985 vol 89 c16
39. Mr. Boyes

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will report on the progress in providing computer facilities for hon. Members in the House.

Mr. Biffen

Since 1983 hon. Members have been able to claim the costs of computers and word processors against the office, secretarial and research allowance. I understand that about a hundred Members have already taken advantage of that facility in order to purchase such equipment.

Mr. Boyes

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that that is not a sufficiently satisfactory approach to the matter? Should not all hon. Members who wish to have computers be issued with computers linked to a central resource mechanism, such as the Library? Is not the Government's attitude to modern technology so backward and sloppy that if the Leader of the House and his right hon. Friends were running a secondhand shop it would go bust in a fortnight?

Mr. Biffen

The principle of an office allowance being available for the purchase of such equipment is important. It is reviewed every four years. It would be unwise to suppose that just because some hon. Members find that facility of use, all hon. Members must or should.

Mr. Skinner

If computers are brought in, will the Leader of the House guarantee that they will not be linked to the telephones, because we have enough trouble as it is?

Mr. Biffen

I cannot give a categorical answer this afternoon, but I shall view the matter with the same sympathy as I extend to most of the suggestions that the hon. Gentleman makes.

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