HC Deb 21 March 2000 vol 346 cc529-30W
Mr. Fabricant

To ask the Chairman of the Information Committee if he will make a statement concerning the continued provision of free remote access to the parliamentary e-mail and internet service. [114055]

Mr. Allan

There are currently no plans to withdraw the arrangements for free access to the PDVN. As the hon. Member knows, the Parliamentary Communications Directorate is presently conducting trials of Virtual Private Network (VPN) technology, which would enable Members' constituency offices to connect to the PDVN using an Internet Service Provider (ISP). VPN access to the PDVN would be quicker and more reliable than the current system. No choice of ISP has yet been made and no decision about any charging arrangements has been taken. The Information Committee is closely monitoring developments.

Committee members generally are committed to the principle of providing the best information services at the least cost to Members. We will consider the proposals from PCD from that point of view and make recommendations accordingly. However, the Committee does not have the authority to make spending decisions of this nature and any recommendation from the Committee with financial implications will have to be passed to the Finance and Services Committee and then on to the House of Commons Commission for decision.