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House Of Commons Commission

Volume 403: debated on Tuesday 8 April 2003

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The hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, was asked—



What representations he has received on the stability of the PDVN for remote users; and if he will make a statement. [107450]

Although the Citrix service has coped well with increasing levels of demand, it is clear that it has not kept pace with the changing needs of Members and their staff. The Parliamentary Communications Directorate has been working on a new faster service built around a virtual private network. Work on the project is now well advanced, and the virtual private network will be available to Members later this year.

Over the last six years the power and performance of the PDVN on the parliamentary estate have become reasonably acceptable, but in the third year of the third millennium the speed and stability of information technology systems for non-metropolitan Members have become wholly unacceptable. I am pleased to learn that the IT strategy is not, for those of us who live beyond the M25, out of sight, out of mind. Is the hon. Gentleman confident that the new timetables will be deliverable?

I am confident that the technical trial of the private virtual network that we started last July has been a success. We are about to begin a user pilot, and I hope that if the results are acceptable and can be analysed, the new network will be available to Members before the summer recess.

The one qualification that I would make—one that is of interest to all Members—is that the network will be available only to compliant machines provided by the PCD. Those with non-compliant machines will have to stick with the old Citrix service, which will continue to he provided. Those wishing to take advantage of the new service in the new year, however, would be well advised to obtain new compliant machines from the PCD if they do not already have them.