§ Mr. Beith
To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) if he will list the responsibilities of the Cabinet Office Parliamentary Branch; 
(2) if he will list the Cabinet Office Parliamentary Branch's (a) planned and (b) outturn budgets for electronic hardware and software for each financial year since 1997–98 to the last year for which budgets have been set; 
(3) for each year since 1997 to the latest year for which the information is available, (a) how many staff were working in the Cabinet Office Parliamentary Branch and (b) what the total cost of the operation of the Cabinet Office Parliamentary Branch was. 
The Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State
The Cabinet Office Parliamentary Branch supports all Ministers within the Cabinet Office, as well as the Lord Privy Seal, in all their dealings with Parliament. A total of –9,613.85 including VAT was spent on a database for Cabinet Office parliamentary questions in December 2000. The branch is also supported by the Cabinet Office in its usual contract for IT equipment. There are no plans for any further expenditure on IT hardware.
Expenditure for the Parliamentary Branch is as follows:
Year Expenditure (£000) Post Numbers 1997–98 106 4 1998–99 142 5 1999–2000 147 5 2000–01 1162 5 2001–02 1171 6
1From 2000 the budget for Parliamentary Branch was incorporated into the Parliamentary and Ministerial Support Services therefore the specific information requested on the Parliamentary Branch could be provided only at disproportionate cost. Therefore the costs listed above are for Parliamentary Branch staffing only.