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House of Commons to digitise parliamentary questions

'We'll get it right this time'

The House of Commons Commission has said it plans to switch to electronic delivery of Hansard's parliamentary written questions and answers.

The commission is "vigorously pursuing a new approach" to set up a secure electronic means of transferring questions and answers to and from government departments to the house, according to a parliamentary answer published on 24 June 2010.

Currently the process takes place on paper, although the questions and answers are published on the Hansard website.

Commission spokesperson Stuart Bell MP also revealed that Hansard (otherwise known as the Official Report), which is responsible for printing written questions and answers between MPs, had already taken part in a failed pilot "to establish structured means of transferring written material to the house".

Bell told Lib Dem MP Jo Swinson that despite past failures the commission still intends to press ahead with a shift to electronic delivery.

"The house expects to realise the following benefits from e-delivery of questions and answers: less use of paper, less reliance on scanning technology, and thus reduced support and maintenance overheads, less time required to process hard copies of answers in the Official Report, generating staffing efficiencies and increased speed of publication," Bell said.

He also revealed that other current recipients of paper copies of answers, such as the house's library, press gallery and MPs themselves "will be consulted on suitable methods of delivery of answers in the future".

The House of Commons Commission is the overall supervisory body of the House of Commons administration.

This article was originally published at Kable.

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