House of Commons Commission (Annual Report)

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:45 pm on 3rd November 2005.

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Photo of Martin Linton Martin Linton Labour, Battersea 3:45 pm, 3rd November 2005

Great strides have been taken, but we must beware of making out that it is a great achievement simply to use electronic media, because everyone does so. We would not put in annual reports to our constituents that we use e-mails or that we download material in electronic form, because that is taken as a matter of course.

It is all very well to have the electronic capture of Bill amendments, but to admit that we still have not achieved the electronic capture of the Order Paper is a bit worrying. The report says that we have saved £1 million by making our paper more electronic, but we should be trying to achieve two basic targets. First, there should be no re-keying anywhere in the House of Commons. Once something has been committed to a computer once, it should not need to be committed again. That is the principle on which newspaper offices and most other offices work. It should not be difficult for Parliament to do so.

Secondly, we should try to achieve a paper-free Parliament further down the line. There is no need for Order Papers, amendment papers and so on to be churned out on huge quantities of paper every day when we could easily access them electronically. I do not say that it will not take some time to achieve that, but what is important is the information on the computer, not the piece of paper on which it is printed. We should be one of the first organisations to achieve paper-free status rather than the last, as I fear we might.

I apologise if I have taken more than my fair share of time. We should be aiming for a professional Parliament with corporate management and a dedicated position of chief executive.