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Volume 407: debated on Tuesday 24 June 2003

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To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what studies he is undertaking into the feasibility of delivering e-government services through mobile phones; and if he will make a statement. [121207]

The Government's overall Channels Strategy, encourages public sector organisations to use a mix of electronic channels including mobile devices to deliver high quality government services to citizens efficiently and cost effectively.Figures show that 75 per cent. of the population owns a mobile phone. Its near ubiquity is the principal reason Government are keen to explore the potential of mobile communications.The office of the e-envoy has recently commissioned a study on how mobile communications might play a part in the e-government agenda. This study will inform the updated channels framework which is due to be published in the spring of 2004.

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what studies he is undertaking and what action he is taking to encourage the private sector to develop e-government services; and if he will make a statement. [121208]

The Government have a wide engagement with the private sector to develop e-government services.The use of private sector ICT products and services to develop and deliver e-government services is well established. The Office of Government Commerce (OGC) runs a programme of work to foster the effective and efficient procurement of products and services to meet Government's needs.Assessment trials of the common IT vocabulary (known as XML) are underway to find the most effective way to allow buyers' and suppliers' computers, running different procurement software packages, to 'talk to each other'. This is a joint initiative from the OGC and the Business Applications Software Developers Association (BASDA). Importantly, the move will enable easier access to the government marketplace for Small and Medium Enterprises.Also, as part of the e-government delivery programme, the Office of the e-envoy is responsible for the e-government intermediaries policy. This policy looks towards creating a mixed economy where government, private and voluntary sectors come together to deliver e-government services that better meet the demands of the citizen. A public consultation is currently underway and will conclude on 21 August 2003: e-envoy also runs an industry consultation group which looks into issues affecting the development of e-government services, drawing in industry views.