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Public Sector Documents

Volume 401: debated on Wednesday 19 March 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate she has made of the impact on United Kingdom GDP of implementation of the Draft Directive on the re-use and commercial exploitation of public sector documents. [101087]

[holding answer 10 March 2003]: It is too early to say with any certainty what impact the implementation of the Directive will be within the UK, and no estimate has been made, but the proposal, as amended within the Council Working Group and due to be considered at the 27 March Telecoms Council, is broadly consistent with the policy adopted within the UK in 2000. That policy, the result of the Cross-cutting Review of the Knowledge Economy, has meant that most central Government information is now licensed for re-use on a marginal cost basis, which in practical terms generally means free of charge. The UK reserved the right of Trading Funds, such as Ordnance Survey and the Met Office, to charge for their documents in a way that would allow them to obtain a reasonable return on investment, and that latitude is reflected in the Directive.If the text is adopted, any effect on GDP would be from the easier re-use of European documents. This would depend on the extent to which UK companies and others took advantage of it. A provisional estimate carried out by Pira International for the European Commission in 2000 suggested that the annual economic benefit for the European Union as a whole would be between 28 billion Euro and 134 billion Euro.