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Volume 405: debated on Wednesday 14 May 2003

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To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office (1) how many people in (a) Scotland and (b) the UK (i) do not regularly use the internet and (ii) have never used the internet; [111290](2) what steps he is taking to give the long-term unemployed

(a) better knowledge of and (b) better access to the internet; [111288]

(3) what steps he is taking to give those in low income households better access to the internet; [111291]

(4) what steps he is taking to encourage people who do not regularly use the internet to log on more often; [111292]

(5) how he plans to publicise the forthcoming launch of Online Nation; [111293]

(6) what percentage of (a) households and (b) schools in (i) Scotland and (ii) the UK had access to the internet in each year since 1998; [111289]

(7) what estimate he has made of the percentage of voluntary organisations in (a) Scotland and (b) the UK who have had websites in each year since 1998. [111294]

The UK has made considerable progress in recent years in terms of the proportion of the population regularly accessing the internet. The UK online programme drives forward work across Government, helping to meet the Prime Minister's commitment of internet access for all who want it by 2005. In 1998, 10 per cent. of UK households (8 per cent. in Scotland) had internet access, compared to 45 per cent. by April 2003. Virtually all schools across the UK are now connected to the internet. All schools in England will have broadband connections by the end of 2006.In total, 62 per cent. of the UK adult population—some 28.7 million people—have now used the internet (October 2002 National Statistics Omnibus Survey); 38 per cent. of the UK adult population, 17.6 million people have yet to get online; and 50 per cent. of the adult population, 23.1 million people, log on regularly. The survey currently provides six-monthly breakdowns of results for the devolved administrations, so 2003 results for Scotland are not yet available.

In November 2002 the Prime Minister announced that we had successfully achieved our target of setting up 6,000 UK online centres in England, enabling thousands of individuals to enjoy the benefits of the internet by providing free or low cost internet access and offering support for first time users. Many of the centres are located in the 2,000 most deprived wards in England. They are located in libraries, community centres, village halls, football clubs, mobile facilities and other community venues. UK online centres have a proven track record of helping to support and engage harder to reach groups, including the long-term unemployed, in the provision of access to ICT learning and skills. So far 16.9 per cent. of users have been unemployed.

The Scottish Executive's Public Internet Access Points initiative aims to create over 1,000 new internet access points in a wide range of venues throughout Scotland where people already go as part of their everyday lives—e.g. shops, post offices, community centres, pubs, sports facilities etc. Over 500 venues are now up and running. In addition over 550 libraries in Scotland now provide free public access to the internet.

To enable people to find their nearest internet access point the UK online helpline, in association with the Scottish Executive, provides contact/location information of public internet access facilities across the UK, including in Scotland.

During the forthcoming 'Get Started' (formerly 'Online Nation') publicity campaign, the UK online helpline will also provide information on events and activities (including taster sessions) in Scotland and Scottish callers will receive the Internet Made Easy CDROM (a joint development with Scottish University for Industry) covering basic skills and outlining the benefits of the web.

The 'Get Started' campaign will seek to explain to those currently not using the internet how the internet can benefit their daily lives, and will encourage them to access the internet at their nearest public internet access point. We are especially keen to encourage elderly people and those in low income households to get online as it is these people who are least likely to be aware of what the internet can do for them. This campaign will run simultaneously with a campaign in the Scottish Executive with similar objectives.

The 6,000 UK online centres will offer a free introductory session to the internet to anyone who wants it. In addition, we have commissioned regional TV programmes and community service announcements to demonstrate how people have benefited from using the internet.

To help get our message across we are working with a number of companies and voluntary organisations to deliver the campaign. These include the BBC, Arriva Group, BT pic, Dixons Stores, the Prince's Trust, the National Library for the Blind, and Citizens Advice. We hope that working with these partners will enable even more people to understand the benefits that the internet can bring.

Households, schools and voluntary organisations online in Scotland and the UK since 1998














1 Percentage of Scottish publicly-funded schools with access to the Internet—source NGfL Scotland Progress Report and NGfL Scotland Progress Report 2.

2 Scotland households: Source Family Expenditure Survey (April 1998 to March 2001) and Expenditure and Food Survey (from April 2001), by financial year.

3 UK households: Source Family Expenditure Survey (April 1998 to March 2001) and Expenditure and Food Survey (from April 2001), October to December quarter.

4 2002 School Census will not be published until June 2003

Voluntary organisations are independent organisations and are not required to notify either Government or indeed anyone else when setting up a website. Therefore no figures are held centrally either for Scotland or the UK on the percentage of voluntary organisations with websites.