House of Commons: Telephones

House of Commons Commission written question – answered on 12th March 2019.

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Photo of Keith Vaz Keith Vaz Labour, Leicester East

To ask the right hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington, representing the House of Commons Commission, what estimate the Commission has made of the cost to the House of the recent installation of new phone systems in the House of Commons.

Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (International Trade), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union)

Parliament’s telephone system was installed in 1985 and – like much of the Palace of Westminster’s core infrastructure – is at the end of its supported life; at significant risk of failure; and growing increasingly difficult to support. Replacement parts for the system are no longer made and the organisation has been buying second hand parts for the last ten years. There are no longer providers in the market place that support the corresponding software. If our legacy system were to fail we could not reliably restore the service.

Given this situation, a project was initiated in 2014 to examine the options to replace our legacy telephone system, whilst also meeting the needs of Parliament’s mobile workforce and the impending estates challenges associated with the restoration and renewal of the Palace of Westminster. That project identified Skype for Business as the most suitable solution to meet these needs.

The total implementation cost for rolling out the system across Parliament (House of Commons and House of Lords Members and the Administrations) to February 2019 is £3.9 million (revenue) and £1.4 million (capital). It is forecast to spend in total £5.5 million (revenue) and £1.5 million (capital). The total revenue cost per user is £611 and the total capital cost is £166 per user. The cost is shared between the House of Commons and the House of Lords on a 70%:30% ratio.

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