June 25th, 2014

Parliament Spends £500,000 on Software They Could Get Free

New figures released by the House of Commons Commission today reveal that parliament is spending £500,000 of taxpayers’ money on basic computer services that could be provided for free elsewhere. ‘Office 365′ is a service offered by Microsoft which hosts cloud versions of Word, Excel, and Outlook, as well as “some new tools accessible once a user’s e-mail box has been migrated to Microsoft 365″. Initially only 12 MP signed up to the new system, with some tech-phobic members confused by the changes:

“We have received some negative feedback about the colour scheme of Outlook 2013 and about the new location of file/print/save buttons in Office 2013; similar feedback was received from House staff. In response PICT have produced guidance for staff on how to darken the colour scheme in Outlook and have been assured by Microsoft that they are working to address the interface issues in future upgrades.”

What Guido cannot understand, however, is why parliament is spending half a million pounds of taxpayer cash on Microsoft’s word processor, spreadsheet software and email service, when the equivalent services are all provided free elswehere. Many MPs already use other software that offers everything that Office 365 does, all online, free of charge. The men in tights are claiming spending all this money will save them over £2 million in the long run. But they needn’t be spending any money on it at all…

UPDATE: Parliamentary staff who have been forced to use the new system agree that it does not provide value for money:


  1. 1
    Boot out the Conservative led coalition in 2015 says:

    Vile, exploitative parasites Wonga give sponsorship money earned from people’s hardship to Mayor’s events: http://www.fca.org.uk/news/wonga-redress-unfair-debt-collection-practices

  2. 2
    Diane Abbotopotamus says:

    I am absolutely outraged that “white collar workers” are not known as “black collar workers”. This is unacceptable and completely waaaycist!

    Furthermore I am absolutely outraged that the “black market” is called “black”, no doubt because of WHITEY associating blackness with criminality. This is disgusting and WAAAYCIST and must be changed RIGHT NOW!

  3. 3

    Politicians would try throwing cash onto a fire to put it out. They cannot be trusted with unregulated expenses and more technocrats are needed to run the shop.

  4. 4
    BooBoo says:

    We poor people need computers, it is our human right!

  5. 5
    Fred says:

    No Parliamentary documents should be stored with *any* foreign service provider, and that includes Google.

  6. 6
    Liar.Politicians says:

    Instead of keeping all your documents locally / internally where you can control it, especially if they involve security matters, you use the “cloud” versions of software, so Microsoft and any other script kiddie can get a copy of what you were working on. Brilliant!

    Which politician / Whitehall gimp got a kickback for this IT brainwave?

  7. 7
    BBC 24hr Rolling Bollocks says:

    The biggest waste of money was on all the hardware we elected in 2010.

  8. 8
    Anonymous says:

    Google Docs isn’t free for businesses. Besides that nothing is ‘free’ in this world, especially with Google. They monetize the data they collect on people, do we really want all our PMs business being sold to the highest bidder? Plus Google Docs are no where near as powerful as Office. For once they’re actually doing the right thing.

  9. 9
    Frank says:

    isn’t it obvious? You use Google docs online and they will be searching/storing it

  10. 10
    Anonymous says:

    Austerity what austerity ?

  11. 11
    Yoda the coder says:

    Extravagant it is.

  12. 12
    WTFingF? says:

    What kind of plonker puts private or confidential information in a “Cloud”?
    Especially a Microsoft one?
    You might as well send it directly to the spooks of various countries.

  13. 13
    Dave says:

    Google docs is Ok if you are always online, but it is reasonable to assume a lot of MPs will want to work while on flights or UK trains – where internet connectivity is non-existent.

    Personally, although Google is good. I would still fork out for Office.

  14. 14
    NationalSecurityAgency says:

    Is it not more of a story that our MP’s correspondence is held in foreign datacentres?

  15. 15
    Bill Quango MP says:

    “I’m sorryy…”


    “I am very sorry..”

    “No..too squeaky.”

    “I am sorry for my actions in..”

    “Nope ..Too much guilt there..Let’s try it again”

    “i am sorry that insufficient care ..”

    “good…keep going..”

    “…Was taken with the appointment of Andy Coulson..”

    “great ! Well done Dave! That’s the tone..That’s the contrition look…go with that..”

    “thanks Nick..you’ve been a big help with this.”

  16. 16
    James says:

    Ah, just the tip of the iceberg really. I think very few government employees or officials understand the value of money, and who can blame them, considering they don’t have to actually “work” for it as is the case for those working in most private organisations.

  17. 17

    It’s part ideological.

    The free version of the software does not convert reasonable e-mails to Chuka into race hate and rebrand all such communication as being from confirmed UKIP supporters.

    That feature is a paid for service only, and essential for parties whose core vote are leaving them.

    They perhaps should review their licensing costs though.

    Vote UKIP :-D

  18. 18
    Mornington Crescent says:

    Sponsored post…?

  19. 19
  20. 20
    Bill Quango MP says:

    Why don’t you call the police again ?

  21. 21
    Charles Frapper MP says:

    As long as I can still do my essential research on minge exploitation I don’t care what system we use.

  22. 22
    Yoda the coder says:

    Speaking of clouds, there is an awful shower heading our way – from Brazil.

  23. 23
    MI5, MI6 and Group4 says:

    Err Geedo.

    Do you really want all the affairs of the British Parliament held by an American firm on its offshore servers?

  24. 24
    Steve Miliband says:

    They will probably send a fact finding mission to silicon valley

  25. 25
    Dougie says:

    Don’t be silly, Guido. Google Docs is good for some people with limited requirements but it does definitely not do everything MS Office does. And you won’t get any support from Google either.

  26. 26
    Modbot process of elimination says:

    Err Geedo.

    Do you really want all the affairs of the British Parliament held by an American firm on its offshore servers?

  27. 27
    Yasmin Alibhai-Brown with a roast chicken on her head says:

    Has anyone seen me roast chicken?

  28. 28
    So was it? says:


  29. 29
    Liar.Politicians says:

    Google Docs is crap, it has major compatibility issues, and of course, is also in “the coud”, so Google have a copy of everything.

    Just install “Libre Office” and be done with it, it even costs nothing if you’re that much of a miser.

  30. 30
    Yasmin Alibhai-Brown with a roast chicken on her head says:

    I could’ve sworn I had it a minute ago

  31. 31
    The British media are cunts says:

    The last decent version of Office Mickeysoft made was 2003. Now it’s just a fucked up pile of shite.

  32. 32
    Obama says:

    We can read them all anyway.

  33. 33
    Senatore Zucchero says:

    The British parliament should only be using British technology, such as the great British Amstrad E-Mailer.

  34. 34
    Suarez says:

    Yuk! Garlic!

  35. 35
    Luis Suarez says:

    Someone ate it ?

  36. 36
    Sir Clive Backhander says:

    It is vital we use Microsoft’s service. The nice man from Microsoft who slipped me a big cheque said so.

  37. 37
    Yasmin Alibhai-Brown with a roast chicken on her head says:

    And owls!

  38. 38
    Frank says:

    To be frank, our Law makers should not be using the software and servers and databases of a foreign power.

  39. 39
    Diana Abbott says:

    …..*Gulp* I tink me see some honkey run off wid it

  40. 40
    Your Host says:

    Yup, alongside mine ;)

  41. 41
    Diane Abbotopotamus says:

    *innocent face*

  42. 42
    Tuco Cameron says:

    Hey! Coulson! [shouting] Hey, Coulson! You know what you are?

    Just a dirty son-of-a-b-{ahhhahahah — waa waa waah}

  43. 43
    Yes To Plain Packs! says:

    You have been reading order-order.com – brought to you by Google Docs, the Murdoch Empire, the Tobacco industry, and the government of Azerbaijan.

  44. 44
    Anonymous says:

    ^^^^ THIS!

    We have plenty of companies here which can do it and I doubt Google Docs is free at Enterprise level.

    Still, £500k is a bit steep – like £350 per person?!

  45. 45
    Steve says:

    The biggest issue other than the cost is that Office 365 data resides OUTSIDE the UK, so US spooks, Chinese spooks etc can easily see what is going on!

  46. 46
    Anonymous says:

    Should any parliamentary documents be created/stored using a cloud-based service?

  47. 47

    In terms of good vs. bad: This tweet is perhaps one of the most polarized yet to surface from the C’ommission:

    ‘Words only matter if put into law.’ – from the EU C’ommissioner for J’ustice.

    Viviane is definitely one of those people you want inside the tent, not out.

    Theresa May, with sass and a totalitarian Kafkaesque zeal that could crush 500 million citizens with a simple caress of a pen.


    Vote UKIP :-D

  48. 48
    Bosun Higgs says:

    When a procurement department overpays for supplies, one should suspect that backhanders are being paid.

  49. 49
    Silent Majority says:

    These people are spraying our money away like Formula 1 drivers shaking champagne.

    If MPs cannot be trusted to manage their own IT how can they pretend to manage civil service departments and other big budgets?

    Who will be sacked for this disgusting waste of our money?

  50. 50
    Sur'Allen says:

    I have 2 million I can issue. Brand new in box. Mint condition . never been used. By anybody..ever..

  51. 51
    The answer is NO says:


  52. 52
    Thicko says:

    I am also outraged that Obarmy lives in the Whitehouse. He is clearly wacist.

  53. 53
    scum says:

    GMail ‘reads’ your emails to provide ads, to enhance it’s search algorithms and to further its business. That’s why it is ‘free’. I don’t want my confidential government emails being scanned by an American corporation to be used in goodness knows what ways.

    Alright, I use gmail, but the point stands. If someone sends an email to their MP about the state of psychiatric care in their constituency only to then be bombarded by ads for counselling while they are surfing the web that’s just not on.

  54. 54
    Roy Hodgson says:

    You need a better-organised defence.

  55. 55
    Good player says:

    That Chiellini looked a bit tasty last night.

  56. 56
    Beach blanket bongo says:

    Cloud companies email people several times a days trying to sell their crap products – justcloud is a prime example. They just don’t stop.

  57. 57
    nabidana says:

    Unfortunately all the other systems are less compatible, less easy to use and produce less attractive documents. Office 365 is brilliant software and the alternatives are horrific to use. I know – I’ve tried every bloody one of them.

  58. 58
    rick says:

    What information could our parliament have that would be of the slightest interest to any power, foreign or domestic ? English taxpayers are the only enemy our government is afraid of.

  59. 59
    An owl says:

    I’d rather be in the trees.

  60. 60
    Andy Coulson, Rebekkah Brooks , Charlie Brooks, Rupert Murdoch etc says:


    God no!

  61. 61
    Ask Abbott says:

  62. 62
    Anonymous says:

    Let them use http://www.libreoffice.org/ and eat cake.

  63. 63
    latex queen says:

    ditto office – use LaTeX!

  64. 64
    Socialism is theft says:

    Will Ed Miliband tell us today that it is now official Labour policy that employers should not hire any person suspected of a crime, let alone of ever having been found guilty of committing one?

  65. 65
    Moshe says:

    Office 365 is about 5 squids a month per account. It’s actually quite a good system and includes Lync so they can communicate with each other for no extra cost.

    The problem with “free” software is that it is quite expensive to support as most systems engineers are schooled in MS and finding someone skilled in “free” software comes at a premium cost.

  66. 66
    Barry Email says:

    Microsoft now offer a hosting service only based in the UK? – news to me? Their DR DCs may not even be in the EU and once that data is hosted in the US you can be sure that it will be fingered by the NSA… We need to know, is Parliament’s data only hosted in the UK?

  67. 67
    Tim Yeo-Yo says:

    This is a very weak story Geeds. Do you actually understand how 365 works and do you really think that UK parliamentary documents should be based in a overseas cloud service?

    I just had to pay £69 quid for my version. Why is it free for MPs?

  68. 68
    Dave and the LibLabConners Tribute Trio says:

    Who cares? It’s only taxpayers’ money. There’s plenty more where that came from.
    If it does run out, we’ll just Quantitatively Ease some more out of our arses.

    Toodle Pip.

  69. 69
    Tim Yeo-Yo says:

    And google docs is shite!

  70. 70
    Caliphate R Us says:

    Should have bit his goolies off ,the Italian get.

  71. 71
    latex queen says:

    Rubbish. Anyone can manage open source – providing they have a modicum of brain power. Of course, that leaves out politicians and civil servants.

  72. 72
    Lord Swanbourne says:


  73. 73
    Peking Duck says:

    How many MPs use Chinese made phones and IT equipment? Where are ipads made?

    eBay pulls sales of Chinese ‘spyware phones’


  74. 74
    Bim says:

    LaTeX is fine – but not so good for spreadsheets.

  75. 75
    Chuka Obama *victim Face* says:

    Woe is me all I did was insult a few million people and look at the ‘abuse’ I get.

  76. 76
    Beach blanket bongo says:

    Very true – especially so in the NHS.

  77. 77
    Village Idiot says:

    …I think the ’97 election, and the next 13years were the most destructive to British society, and we will pay one way or another from this shameful period of British history
    for the rest of time!
    …Everything labour touched is now broken!

  78. 78
    Prisoner No 6 says:

    You think they don’t?

  79. 79
    A Londoner says:

    Cheeky cow – she didn’t ask my opinion.

  80. 80
  81. 81
    Windy Pops says:

    You are quite obviously in a great Windrush.

    Suggest you try Eno’s or Rennies….. and then please bugger off back to Jamaica.

  82. 82

    Most likely fan mail from the illiterate Hope not Hate / UAF mongs who mis-read your original article and thought you had switched to UKIP because the internet told you to.

    Vote UKIP :-D

  83. 83
    Let's leave the EU then have a 'mature debate' as to whether to rejoin says:

    What’s to discuss? this person we don’t know got the job and we didn’t have a choice in the matter.

  84. 84
    General Disorder says:

    They don’t have many.

  85. 85
    Buffalo Bill says:

    This might explain why the vast majority of our techies are Injuns on a 6 month rolling contract.

  86. 86
    Moshe says:

    Anything connected to the internet is hackable, so unless they revert to typewriters and locked filing cabinets, the difference is as only good as the password.

  87. 87
    Question for Chuka says:

    Many people posting here seem to know much about software and many people posting here will possible be voting UKIP. I wonder if there’s a connection?

  88. 88
    Diane Abbotopotamus says:


  89. 89
    ʍȫʊʂʂȁ ҞϴџṦṦậ says:


    Cameron should resign, today.

    Let’s have a General Election, now.

  90. 90
    Delhi Belly says:

    Tvoz I Sahib. Me go back to Calcutta at weekend – now very rich person thanks to your vunderful government.

  91. 91
    Mycroft says:

    I use the net for things that don’t really matter too much.

    I have one computer that is not connected (and never has) to the net.

    The financial papers I write are a teensy-bit sensitive and I use that one for them.

    I usually hand them over in person.

    I would suggest that MPs should be doing something similar, but for the most part they don’t really do anything really important and it is good for cooperation if the NSA and our own SS know what the buggers are doing.

    In reality the free option would have been best because Google or MS will both be an open door to these snoopers.

    Terrorists will spot this soon and do everything important by hand and then mobilise by modern means.

    The present intake of MPs are like the guy who got stuck in a stone vagina… fill in the rest yourselves.

  92. 92
    A discreet word says:

    Psst Diana you’ve got a bit of fried chicken grease on your nose.

  93. 93
    Moshe says:

    That will please our allies and protectors.

  94. 94
    latex queen says:

    Try this http://orgmode.org/ and export to latex.

  95. 95
    Gole powst says:

    Too many left wingers seems to be the problem Woy.

  96. 96
    They're all cunts says:

    Conservative donor and government adviser Adrian Beecroft has a major stake in Wonga.

    Just saying.

  97. 97
    Dan Hodges says:

    I agree.
    And with Miliband riding high in the polls what could go wrong?

  98. 98
    Moshe says:

    Oh do lets ! Millibland would come third to Farage.

  99. 99
    Long John Silver's parrot says:

    So that Frankie Maude character is not as sharp as he would like us to believe.

    Perhaps we should have a taxpayer audit of his parliamentary expenses.

  100. 100
    UKIP: Hacking at the roots with the truth says:

    Nothing to discuss really, the whole shitty lot of them and their corrupt organisation are the enemy of the people, so noting, that’s nothing, they say or do is of any use and we are just biding time now waiting for UKIP to get elected and take us out of the expensive nightmare.

  101. 101
    Abbotabad is bad for your health says:

    Mrs Slocum’s pussy got it.

  102. 102
    Hard wyred says:

    Look on the bright side! The MPs have no idea what they are doing anyway, so this is a great opportunity for malevolent folk to feed in lots of useless disinformation.

  103. 103
    anon says:

    Two words – Data Sovereignty…

  104. 104
    anon says:

    Ireland and Amsterdam are where their Euro servers are based, but I agree, what twat thought this was a good idea.

  105. 105
    Misleading Cases says:

    The pattern in Westminster seems to be that if you are in power and think you are going to lose it at the next Election then you splurge the money now. This has many benefits for the spender but not the Electorate (in the long term) or the potential incoming administration.
    As the celebrated Sir AP Herbert observed, it is illegal to buy a man a pint to induce him to vote for you but not to promise him a job for life that will buy him as many pints as he might like.

  106. 106
    A dentist speaks says:

    When a footballer loses the plot it is common for him to go in with the head (see Pepe, Zidane and countless others). Also popular is the elbow or arm (see Alex Song (punished), Naymar (unpunished) and countless others. Nobody passes that much remarks over these. But Mr Suarez, who is no doubt proud of his fine set of upper teeth, likes to go in with his gnashers. That’s all there is to it.

    Interestingly, Mr Mililband’s upper gnashers bear a striking resemblance to those of Mr Suarez. Not that I’m suggesting Mr Miliband should go at Mr Cameron with his gnashers. That would be foolish, and we know Mr Miliband does not do foolish things.

  107. 107
    Are you taking the piss? says:

    Anybody who has used Google Docs for anything more than primary school level document creation will tell you that it is shit. Buy cheap, pay twice. As for the various incarnations of Open Office, do not make me laugh. Why should our MP’s not get proper software? This article shows a lack of understanding of the basic and novice uses of office software.

  108. 108
    Anonymous says:

    Tex don’t do spreadsheets – there’s more to office ware than word processing.

  109. 109
    Anonymous says:

    Just plain text.

  110. 110

    Gottabe a naice little for someone, innit?

  111. 111
    Ripped off tax payer says:

    Microsoft are ripping off everyone, not just the tax payer. Governments must move to free open source software and stop pissng our hard earned down the drain to foreign corporations. Microsoft are lobbyists BTW.

  112. 112
    Ripped off tax payer says:

    Munich moved to open source and are now Microsoft free – saving millions of Euro’s per year for their tax payers. Further more, they are free from Microsoft control and can scan their open source system code for spyware, which is impossible to do with Microsoft software – a massive security risk.

  113. 113
    These Sentiments Are Mine! ALL Mine!-Cackle, Clackle, Burb! says:

    I’ve always maintained that Westminster (and Politics in General) needs more Engineers/Techies. That could be why one of my Local MEP’s is… :)

  114. 114
    Anonymous says:

    There’s also the problem that a lot of it is crap. It’s free if your time is worth nothing.
    The “support” consists of forums full of neckbeards who tell you it’s open source so you can fix it yourself.

  115. 115
    Anonymous says:

    Unfortunately it’s shit. They changed the name from “Open office” because everybody tried it and found out it was shit. It’s still shit.

  116. 116
  117. 117

    Wonder is this will transfer to interweb

  118. 118

    23 Million USA Email List Free,20 Million USA Email List Free
    Do you want 8000 REAL Google Traffic to your website or Blog
    Do you want 1000 REAL YouTube views from Real People


  119. 119

    All those “Tech-phobic” members ought to have a word with Chucky, he’s the kiddie with computers.

  120. 120
    Abottobad Province, Yasministan says:

    Don’t count your chickens.
    No really, please don’t.

  121. 121
    Anonymous says:

    A fool and taxpayers money

  122. 122
    dave south says:

    And where is 365 hosted. Not in the UK. Its rediculous. UK Parlement data should be only hosted in the UK subject to UK law. Not to mention that procurement can’t be being done correctly. Hmmm free open source software where by he code can be verified for security or closed source expensive software that does the same thing hosted outside he UK. Seems like a no brainer. Who said politians had brains anyway.

  123. 123
    After A Long Racist Rant I Like To Settle Down With A Nice Cup Of Tea says:

    Oh dear. It’s bad when you can rant about stuff (of which most people would think you’re mad), and then most people actually agree with you! :) A Federal UK and an English Parliament, Full PR, Ban Lobbying, 1 Primary House for an MP (squaddies don’t get to ‘flip’), actually Prosecute Serial Dog-shitter’s, Include Banana’s into the VAT equation, etc, etc…..

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Alan Milburn says Labour’s scaremongering campaign for an unreformed NHS will not win election…

“It would be a fatal mistake, in my view, for Labour to go into this election looking as though it is the party that would better resource the National Health Service but not necessarily put its foot to the floor when it comes to reforming. Look, reforms are not easy, but the Labour Party is not a conservative party. It should be about moving things forward not preserving them in aspic. You have got a pale imitation actually of the 1992 general election campaign, and maybe it will have the same outcome. I don’t know.”

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