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Volume 977: debated on Tuesday 29 January 1980

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asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how much of the £1,791,000 estimated increase in capital cost for the proposed House of Commons Library indexing system is attributable to a requirement to provide for compatibility with any future system such as text retrieval.

The five factors tending to increase the costs of the House of Commons Library computer indexing system since the 1976 estimates are identified in paragraph 12 of the background paper submitted by the Librarian and the Computer Development Officer to the Computer Sub-Committee of the Services Committee and published in the minutes of evidence taken by that Sub-Committee on 12 July 1979 (HC 427—i, p. 5). These include:

  • (a) increases due to delay in implementation, including both inflation and the need for suppliers to increase management effort in order to abridge the development phase; and
  • (b) expansion of the system to take account of future applications in Parliament, which implies both the ability to increase the hardware to cope with such applications and also greater versatility of the programmes themselves.
  • There is naturally interaction between the several factors and it is not feasible to quantify the effect of any one of them. However, as regards the inflation aspect, the retail price index increase since February 1976 has been estimated to be over 50 per cent.Factor (

    b) is of course a significant element of the costs. But its effect should be to facilitate future new developments and hence mitigate their cost.

    asked the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough (Mr. Bottomley), as representing the House of Commons Commission, when approval was given to increase the scope of the proposed House of Commons Library computer indexing system to provide for expansion into a text retrieval system.

    Financial approval for the revised scheme was given by the Commission on 24 July 1979.