Peers blighted by Whitehall tech failings

Peers blighted by Whitehall tech failings
Photo by Dan Kitwood - WPA Pool / Getty Images
Text settings

When it comes to technology, it's no secret that our ruling masters in Westminster and Whitehall have had their issues. From the NHS 'supercomputer' to disk files being regularly lost; gross mismanagement of resources to poor cyber security, problems with computers, software and equipment have bedeviled the inhabitants of SW1 for years.

And now another venerable name can be added to the list of long-suffering institutions facing such difficulties: the House of Lords. But this being the Upper House – where the average age of membership is 69 –  the technology is decidedly more old school than the newfangled kind of kit coming out of Silicon Valley these days. For the issue that is currently vexing their noble lordships is the parliamentary phone system.

Despairing peers have been driven around the bend by the handsets, which require a login to a parliamentary account to make a call. The recent Members' Survey was full of complaints from some less tech-savvy peers with Lord Campbell-Savours, 78, now taking up the cause with the Senior Deputy Speaker. The Chair of the Services Committee, Lord Touhig, fielded the response, promising in a jargon-filled response that

An investment programme mandate to replace the current service... will formally begin over the summer recess with the development of a business case alongside continued market research and implementation planning... The programme has begun engaging with Members to ensure that the replacement solution addresses the dissatisfaction and will continue to do so after the summer recess.... [it is] expected that all user migration would be completed by the end of 2023.

Just another eighteen months of suffering to endure then! Let's hope they don't have to call for help...

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to or message @MrSteerpike

Topics in this articlePoliticshouse of lords