Members' Staff: ICT

House of Commons Commission written question – answered at on 29 February 2024.

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Photo of James Daly James Daly Conservative, Bury North

To ask the hon. Member for Broxbourne, representing the House of Commons Commission, what the policy of the Parliamentary Digital Service is on (a) the rights of access to parliamentary (i) emails and (ii) electronic devices for line managers of hon. Members’ staff and (b) providing access to parliamentary (A) emails and (B) electronic devices to parliamentary staff funded via short money; and whether the Parliamentary Digital Service has issued guidance to political parties on these matters.

Photo of Charles Walker Charles Walker Chair, Administration Committee, Chair, Administration Committee

Members are the Controllers for the personal data held by their Parliamentary offices. This includes the data and information stored on the Parliamentary-provided devices and network accounts of their Parliamentary staff, including staff funded by short money.

In almost all circumstances, access is only provided to the data held in a Member’s parliamentary account or devices (or those of their staff) by the Parliamentary digital Service (PDS) on the instruction of that Member in their capacity as Controller. This is in line with the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR) data processing contract between each Member and the Administration.

As the Controller, a Member can instruct PDS to grant themselves, or members of their Parliamentary staff, access to the accounts and devices assigned to other staff in their own office.

Devices funded by short money that have been ordered through PDS are managed by PDS. In line with the UK GDPR data processing contract between individual Members and the Administration, PDS would facilitate access to the information stored on these devices at the instruction of the Controller.

Although no specific guidance has been issued by PDS to political parties on this issue, the Administrations of both Houses of Parliament have a data processing contract that applies to Controllers using Parliament’s IT systems. The contract for Members of both Houses includes a service description that sets out how Members are using Parliament’s IT systems to process the personal data which they are responsible for.

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