§ Mr. McMaster
To ask the Chairman of the Information Committee if he will make a statement on the range and type of(a) general and (b) computer services which may be accessed from the Library by the constituency offices of hon. Members; what advice and assistance is available in establishing links between constituency offices and the House; what plans he has to enhance such services; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Waller
All services of the Library are available to the constituency offices of hon. Members by telephone, fax and post. In addition, Members can request direct access to POLLS, the Parliamentary on-line information service managed by the Library, from their constituency if they have the necessary personal computer and modem. The Library provides an information sheet on establishing a telecommunications link to POLLS and will provide such support as it can, given the wide range of equipment used by Members.
A pilot project for a parliamentary data and video network is at present being undertaken in 7 Millbank. Members and staff in 7 Millbank have direct cabling to the network, but access from elsewhere is via modem. Services from the Library available now, or shortly on the system, include POLIS and the HMSO CD-ROM disks of Hansard. Other services such as CD-ROMS of national 153W newspapers will also become available. The pilot project of the network will be reviewed by the Information Committee in the next few months.
Any plans to enhance the network services beyond those necessary for the pilot project must depend upon the Information Committee's report and the House's reaction to it.
The computer officer and his staff are available to provide advice and assistance to Members on information technology matters; a list, approved by the Information Committee, of appropriate IT equipment; and training for Members, their staff and constituency offices to access and use the pilot network.