Hundreds of digital workers could be asked to return to work on-site
Staff at the Parliamentary Digital Service (PDS) are among the potentially 700-plus extra people that will be required to return to work at the Houses of Parliament each day after the virtual Commons was brought to an end last week.
Although remote contributions will continue to be allowed, and proxy voting will be permitted for MPs aged over 70 or shielding on medical advice, all other members – including those in Northern Ireland and Scotland, and those who live with or care for vulnerable people – will be required to attend Westminster to vote.
In addition to the potential return of hundreds of MPs, an additional 650 people from across the PDS and other parliamentary services may now be required each day to maintain IT and deliver other services. On top of which, extra officers from the Metropolitan Police will also be needed, and “increasing numbers of construction contractors” will also attend parliament, according to Pete Wishart, a Scottish National Party MP who sits on the House of Commons Commission.
“This increase is due to the end of hybrid proceedings, with the change in government guidance for sectors like construction also contributing to the increase,” he added. “The number provided represents staff on-site over a 24-hour period.”
Wishart was answering a written parliamentary question from SNP colleague Owen Thompson.
The most recently available data shows that 455 IT staff were employed to work on-site at the Houses of Parliament. About 250 of these are full-time PDS employees, with the rest comprised of fixed-term contractors and freelance workers.