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Information Technology Management

Volume 558: debated on Wednesday 6 February 2013

4. What plans he has to achieve greater value for money from the Government’s management of information technology. (141653)

Days after the coalition Government came to office, we introduced strict controls on ICT spend that saved the taxpayer £316 million last year alone, a figure verified by the National Audit Office. We have opened up procurement to small and medium-sized enterprises, we are moving towards open standards and interoperability, and we are reopening some of the incredibly expensive and burdensome ICT contracts that we inherited from the previous Government, with a view to making significant further savings. There is much more that can be done, and much more that we will do.

I thank the Minister for that answer and welcome those actions. I also thank him for visiting Ark Continuity in my constituency, a company whose data centres make cloud computing possible. There are myriad data centres in local and national Government and in the wider public sector, and there are huge savings to be made. Will the Minister target this area in searching for ways to save the taxpayer money?

I enjoyed my visit with my hon. Friend to Ark Continuity. It was very illuminating. There is a huge amount we can do. Data centre capacity across Government is massively underused. A huge amount of overcapacity was left in place by the outgoing Government, who had no interest in these subjects at all. We are getting to grips with it, however. We need to do more, and we will do so; there is much more money we can save.

The fact is that the NAO did not verify the savings. According to the NAO, the Department overstated its claimed IT savings probably by tens of millions of pounds. The Minister has form on this: he predicted £20 billion of savings from his quango review, but the NAO showed he barely saved a tenth of that. Perhaps the Department should propose a new ministerial baccalaureate in adding up and taking away. Since the Minister cannot get his figures right, will he now at least agree to brush up on his maths?

The hon. Gentleman is talking total nonsense. We inherited a massive Budget deficit left by a Government who were fiscally incontinent and made no effort to deliver any efficiency savings whatsoever. Through our efficiency programme, we have already delivered £12 billion of savings and there is much more that can be done. The outgoing Government left the public finances and Whitehall efficiency in a shockingly sorry state.