John Hemming's Web Log John's Reference Website
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
  EDM 860 - Internet Access from House of Commons
I placed EDM 860 on the order paper to raise the issue that MPs cannot get email from outside the Parliamentary Estate if they are attached to the Parliamentary Network.

That is because the Parliamentary Communications Department blocks port 110. Quite a few more technically able MPs who handle their own email, rather than having it forwarded to a member of staff, use more advanced systems than are available via the House of Commons.

Having circulated an email to all MPs I find one MP who uses a G3 connection like myself (but a different service provider) finds he has to wander around to get a signal to get his email. Quite a few MPs find that the rules developed by the Parliamentary Communications Department prevent them doing their job properly.

I work hard to make it relatively easy for constituents to contact me. The facilities established at substantial cost to assist this tend to prevent it.

I believe that if enough MPs sign the EDM then some cables will be replugged to make it possible to use the system to a fuller extent.
 
Comments:
John,

I am a local district councillor and my father used to be an MP for over 25 years (Sir Michael Shersby) and I think the current Parliamentary email arrangements are little short of a disgrace.

For instance over 100 MPs have no personal email address at all and this includes a significant number of government ministers.

I appreciate the potential for spam and so on but there must be ways to try and overcome this and block most potential spam.

As a district councillor all councillors on Mole Valley District Councillors have an email address in the format cllr.bloggs@molevalley.gov.uk which is redirected to whatever real underlying email address councillors want with their own ISP. Also for the three of the 41 councillors who are IT illiterate the emails are directed to our committee services section who print them out and send them to the relevant councillor.

I have tried to discuss this with the Parliamentary IT office who take a very snooty nosed approach that it is not up to them to impose any commonality in email accessibility for MPs.

What you tell me about some MPs not having access to external email if they use the Parliamentary email system is even more alarming. But presumably most MPs redirect to their own ISPs? However where an MP has an email account they do not use like my own MP Sir Paul Beresford (beresfordp@parliament.uk) the account is not disabled but instead accumulates in an ever larger electronic dustbin that will not be accessed. This is the case unless an MP asks for an account they do not want to use to be manually disabled.

Sir Paul only accepts emails addressed to his secretary.

I think the IT staff of the House of Commons must think they are running MI5 rather than a body for whom the primary purpose of life is to communicate with the public.

I hope you manage to get quite a few signatories for your EDM.

By the way have you signed the EDM against 0870 numbers? If not can you please do so:-

Regards,

Julian Shersby
cllr.shersby@molevalley.gov.uk
 
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