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MPs' IT support costs £1.122m

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If you've ever wondering how much it costs to show MPs and their staff how to use their computers, the answer is in - £1.22m.

The figure came in a Commons answer yesterday. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown had asked what the cost of IT support for members was.

John Thurso, speaking for the House of Commons Commission, replied that the total budget for users of parliamentary IT - which would include the house's support and admin staff, or Servants of the House to give their traditional name - is £1.87m.

"The service is not disaggregated for specific user groups," said Thurso. "However 60 per cent of the calls derive from Members of the House of Commons and their staff, making the proportionate cost of IT support to Members of the House of Commons and their staff £1.122 million pa."

The figure doesn't cover IT support for members in their constituencies, he added, though members are entitled to broadband for upto three locations away from Parliament, at a maximum cost of £852 a year. (We presume this is the total cost, not the cost per line.) And they have the ability to call in a pair of crack Commons IT geeks to sort out problems in the consituencies, should the need arise.

There are 650 MPs, while MP staff stands at 2,915.

By contrast, House of Commons staff come to 1,839. Which means that while MPs and their staff account for 65 per cent of the staff in the Commons, they suck up just 60 per cent of the IT support spend.

Which sounds like a good deal, though it's not clear whether those 1800 odd Commons staffers includes everyone from librarians and IT support staff to engineers, security staff and the people in the tearoom. We called to check but no one answered the phone. Possibly they were showing an MP's researcher how to get an outside line. ®

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