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Digitising Parliamentary Processes

Volume 667: debated on Thursday 31 October 2019

As I hope that Members are aware, the House of Commons and the Parliamentary Digital Service have made significant progress in digitising various parliamentary processes, such as through the Members’ hub for tabling questions digitally. Members might not be aware that “Erskine May” was made publicly available online for the very first time in July this year and is available through the UK Parliament website.

You were my first Speaker, Mr Speaker. I wish you and your family every happiness. I find it very hard to imagine this Chamber without you, although I do hope the electors in Newcastle give me the opportunity to find out. You have been a great reforming, inclusive, witty and stimulating Speaker, both in this Chamber and across the country. Your visits to Newcastle mean that you will be very fondly remembered by the people of my great city.

Part of the reforms you have instigated, Mr Speaker, have been on the digital and technology front. I congratulate the Parliamentary Digital Service and the right hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Tom Brake) on the progress that has been made in making us more effective technically—the Members’ hub, the digitisation of tabling questions and support for Android—but there is much, much more to be done if we are to be truly as effective as possible. I know that Members of Parliament are very hard use cases to tie down, but participation in the development and design of digital processes is essential. What will he do to ensure that new and returning Members are part of design processes so that technology empowers us, as it should for all our constituents?

I can reassure the hon. Lady and other Members that if they have issues about the way the Members’ hub works, for instance, they can simply walk the short distance from here to the Table Office. I understand that the Table Office, on a monthly basis, reviews suggestions and possible improvements that Members have drawn to their attention. I know personally, from having raised an issue, that that has then been reflected in how the system works. I therefore encourage all Members—perhaps in the new Parliament we will need to remind new Members of this fact—to remember that the Table Office is there, and that it will respond to and review matters on a monthly basis.

May I put on record my thanks to you, Mr Speaker, for the encouragement you have given me? I remember my first day here in 2010 and seeing my name on the entrance as I came in. I remember your firm handshake and the friendship you showed, which put me very much at ease. As a Back Bencher, I thank you for giving me and others the opportunity to express ourselves on many occasions, which we have done. I also thank you for your encouragement, guidance and friendship. To your wife Sally and your family, I say thank you so much. It will never be forgotten: not by me and not by many in the House. Thank you.

What consideration has been given to encouraging more paperless routes to parliamentary procedure in an attempt to be an example to businesses outside this place on how to cut down and make the most of physical resources?

I can reassure the hon. Gentleman that that has happened and that there are further changes in the pipeline, for instance in relation to Committees, legislation and Members’ web pages. The changes he seeks to introduce to make this place a paperless environment are in the pipeline and, I hope, will be delivered over the next few years.