HC Deb 20 June 1994 vol 245 cc15-6
33. Mr. Gunnell

To ask the Chairman of the Finance and Services Committee what consideration the Finance and Services Committee is giving to the report by the Information Committee on the provision of a Parliamentary data and video network, HC 237.

35. Mr. Ian Bruce

To ask the Chairman of the Finance and Services Committee what plans the Committee has to make provision for the introduction of an electronic information system for hon. Members and their staff.

Mr. Paul Channon (on behalf of the Finance and Services Committee)

The Committee has already begun to consider the report from the Information Committee on the proposed network and it hopes to complete its consideration shortly.

Mr. Gunnell

Will the right hon. Gentleman say how much has been spent to date on developing the network? Can he assure me that the House will have an opportunity to debate the report before the recess so that progress can be made and so that hon. Members may have access to the network when they return in October?

Mr. Channon

The first part of the hon. Gentleman's question concerns a matter that is extremely complicated; if he will allow me to do so, I will therefore write to him. On the second part of his question, I assure him that the House would have to have a debate before it proceeded to implement the report. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House has already indicated that he hopes to hold such a debate before the summer recess.

Mr. Bruce

Does my right hon. Friend agree that, while the rest of the country and the world are talking about information super-highways, we in this place are still limping along a muddy footpath? Such a system could save the House a great deal of money. It could improve the way we do things in the House and would act as a beacon to encourage the rest of the country and the world to use information technology. Can my right hon. Friend give us a better idea when the network will be in place and when a decision will be taken, so that every hon. Member may have an appropriate piece of equipment to link into the network?

Mr. Channon

I will ensure that the views of my hon. Friend and of the hon. Member for Morley and Leeds, South (Mr. Gunnell) are made known to my Committee when it meets tomorrow to discuss the matter. No doubt my hon. Friend the Member for South Dorset (Mr. Bruce) would like to take part in the debate when it occurs. If the House decides in principle to proceed with the recommendations of the Information Committee, we shall of course also look at ways of speeding the process up.