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To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission pursuant to his answer of 18 May 2004, to the hon. Member for Preseli Pembrokeshire (Mrs. Lawrence), Official Report, column 850W, on running costs, what factors underlie the increase in costs attributed to communications between 1995 and 2003.
The bulk of the running costs, on average just under 90 per cent., are accounted for by expenditure on staff, so any change in staffing levels has a direct impact on the overall running costs. The change in the staffing levels of the Communications Directorate in the period 1995 to 2003 was influenced by a number of factors. These include:
the expansion of the pilot PDVN to a full Parliament-wide network; the increase in the number of users and hence support they require; improvements to the resilience of the network and associated underlying engineering support; the central provision of equipment to Members; the creation of the helpdesk and, latterly, extension of its opening hours; and, more services being provided over the network for Members, Peers and Parliamentary departments and offices.