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Electronic Information Services

Volume 264: debated on Monday 23 October 1995

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To ask the Lord President of the Council what plans he has to provide more information from his Department to the parliamentary data and video network and to improve electronic information services for hon. Members and the public. [36496]

The parliamentary data and video network is a private network exclusively for the use of the Houses of Parliament. Public access is expressly not permitted. As part of the recently installed Internet link, however, plans are in hand for the provision of a public World Wide Web server, which would allow access by the general public to limited information. Possibilities for future developments on the data and video network are considered by the relevant staff Committees of both Houses, together with the House of Commons Information Committee and the House of Lords Library and Computer Sub-Committee.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. He will have noted that I specifically asked about Members' services as well as access for the public. I welcome the fact that the public will be able to obtain more information on the Internet. However, as we are spending a large amount of public money putting in a network for the use of Members and their staff, would it not be better to move very quickly ahead with getting as much information as possible about what is happening in the House on to the parliamentary data and video network so that we can cut out an awful lot of the paper currently being created day by day?

I find myself quite in sympathy with that as a general proposition. However, as I have said, those matters would need to be considered by the appropriate Committees of the House.

We have a statement first. I shall, of course, come back to the hon. Gentleman.