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Copycat Websites (Government Services)

Volume 587: debated on Tuesday 28 October 2014

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the sitting be now adjourned.—(Mark Lancaster.)

People’s experience of the internet is generally good. Whether for skyping friends and relatives, ordering groceries online or even starting a business, the internet has changed the world beyond all recognition. Like many, I am pleased that older people, who may have viewed computers with suspicion in the past, have embraced the internet positively.

Sadly, although the internet provides great opportunities, it also presents threats. One is copycat websites for Government services, which are part of a growing industry that exists purely to trick the public out of their hard-earned money. That industry thrives by using underhand methods to fool people into paying way over the odds for Government services. In many cases, the victims are too embarrassed to report being ripped off, or simply do not know where to go to complain.

Research by Which? has revealed that more and more of its readers are being exposed to such websites each year. The sites exist for virtually anything, including paying taxes, obtaining driving licences, changing one’s name, applying for passports and birth certificates and even registering a bereavement. People are being tricked into paying up to £1,000 more than they should for such services.

Does my hon. Friend agree that the issue is not only that people are being duped into paying over the odds for Government services but that they are sharing personal information that should be secure? When renewing her driving licence, an 82-year-old constituent of mine thought that a company called Net-secure was the payment arm of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency. Her bank cancelled her payment to that company, but months later she found a similar payment had been taken from her by a company with a similar name. We should bear in mind that aspect as well.

I agree with my hon. Friend. I raised the matter with the Prime Minister at Prime Minister’s questions last Wednesday. What tends to happen is that people’s personal information is sold to criminal gangs, which then use it for further scams and to rip people off.

Often, as we know, the services I have mentioned are free through official channels. I welcome the extra funding for the National Trading Standards Board that was announced recently, but I have to say that action on the issue has to date been painfully slow. Copycat websites are taking money, through unfair means, from every MP’s constituents, yet in most cases the companies that trick people are doing so legally. It is not just that the sites are able to charge a reviewing and forwarding fee that in most cases is not actually required; many also charge an administration fee, which is not quoted until it is too late to back out of the transaction.

Perhaps most worrying of all, as my hon. Friend said, is the potential for identity theft. The sites collect all sorts of personal data. No one really knows what they do with the information, but there is the potential to sell it to criminal gangs.

In my constituency a gentlemen called Mr Tom Williams was recently tricked into paying an extra £40 for a tax disc. Like many people across the country who have been caught out by such websites, Mr Williams looked at the design of the site, which looked like an official Government site. It ranked highly on search engines, which also suggested that it was an official Government site, and it seemed to be a professional and effective service. Only later did Mr Williams realise that he had paid significantly more than he needed to for his tax disc. His case is not an isolated incident.

I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on securing this debate. I have had constituents caught by precisely the same DVLA scam. Like him, I have been frustrated by the slow pace of change and the almost complacent attitude of the Office of Fair Trading to the implications of this issue.

I absolutely agree. The worst aspect of the DVLA scam is that people need a tax disc. It worries me that, as we move away from the traditional tax disc to a system of paying by direct debit, people could perhaps be scammed monthly, and pay over the odds every single month, because websites will be getting residual income every time.

Research conducted by Ipsos MORI for the Advertising Standards Agency found that the features that are important to people in deciding whether a site is official include the general design, the look and feel, the text describing the service and—perhaps most tellingly—the presence of a professional logo. Most, if not all, copycat websites are designed to look as much as possible like Government sites. They use text that describes services that sound official and many have logos that make them look like they are representing the Government.

On Sunday I checked one such site, europeanhealthcard. It carries a picture of a European health insurance card front and centre, and describes itself as “a registered institution” that guarantees

“genuine service and complete secrecy about your personal information”.

It promises

“a full and comprehensive review of your application and forwarding within the mentioned time-period”

and states that it will

“make sure that all your details are filled in properly, without any typographical mistakes”

and ensure that

“all the necessary information is presented in the application form for a speedy delivery.”

However, hidden in the terms and conditions of the site, it is made clear that the company is unable to do anything to ensure a “speedy delivery” and that it will not accept any liability if data are spoiled.

In effect, the company promises a service that it is unable to deliver. It promises to help with people’s applications and to keep their data safe, but its terms and conditions make it clear that none of that is guaranteed. Even in the event that personal health information is lost or misplaced, the company claims that it has absolutely no liability. It is fair to say that if a website charges for a free Government service, such as the European health insurance card, but does not guarantee anything it claims to be able to do, it is not offering a fair price. That site is just one example of websites designed to have the look and feel of Government sites; they promise a professional, effective service for a fair price but, when looked into, provide anything but that.

I could give examples of many more websites that act in that manner and make every effort allowed within the law to trick people out of money. What is more telling is the silence of such companies. Many do not have contact numbers available online and are registered to post office boxes. As for those who do list contact numbers, my staff have contacted them but so far have faced a wall of silence, and have been unable to speak to anyone involved with corporate affairs. They have never been allowed past the operator. That is not just our experience. When newspapers have launched investigations, they have found it impossible to get in contact with the operators of copycat websites. It seems that, when faced with scrutiny, the companies that run such sites shut them down. I invite anyone running any of those companies who wishes to defend themselves to get in contact with me personally. I am more than happy to hear what they have to say.

We need concrete action to tackle copycat websites, to deal not just with their presence online but with the companies and people behind them. Since receiving extra funding six months ago, Trading Standards has taken action against a small number of copycat websites and has posted a new web page with guidance. But Ipsos MORI research for the Advertising Standards Agency has shown that people with the lowest levels of online literacy are the most at risk of being tricked by the sites. An online guide will do little to help those people avoid paying over the odds for Government services.

I welcome the decision by Google, working in conjunction with the Government, not to take advertising from a website once it has been identified as a copycat. That is a step in the right direction, as most of the websites pay for adverts that are often placed above the official Government website in search results. However, it takes time to work out whether sites paying for such adverts are indeed copycat websites. As we know, the internet moves far more quickly than Government or, indeed, society.

Although the regulatory agencies try to keep people safe from copycat websites, their actions are limited by the law. I accept that no regulation should make it difficult for legitimate companies to operate, but can anyone really claim that the tactics pursued by copycat websites are anything less than unfair? I fear we are heading towards the same situation that we faced with nuisance calls, when it took years for relevant legislation to be updated.

Earlier this year, amendment 69 to the Consumer Rights Bill would have made it unfair behaviour for a consumer to be mis-sold a service on what they believed was an official site. At the time, the Government argued that the amendment was not necessary—that they were working with search engines and regulatory agencies and that that would stop misleading websites. Since then, five people have been arrested in connection with copycat websites, and 25 sites have been shut down. Those figures are woefully low.

In January this year, The Mail on Sunday reported that a trading standards investigation and enforcement manager had told it that it was “extremely difficult” for trading standards to take action against most copycat websites. The investigation found that many people who ran copycat websites used multiple addresses and registered offices to confound trading standards. Even when the people behind schemes are identified and caught, most are found to have done nothing against the law.

It is time for the Government to look again at the legislation on copycat websites. Although trading standards staff are working to the best of their capacity to tackle these websites, they are dealing with a fast-moving world, and once one website is shut down, another is set up almost immediately under another name. While progress is slow, the least digitally engaged—often older and more vulnerable people—are being tricked into spending more of their hard-earned money than necessary. That cannot be allowed to continue.

I would like to see a three-pronged attack on copycat websites. First, there should be prevention. Transport for London already writes to anyone who has paid the congestion charge through a third-party website informing them that they have done so, and it is also consulting on a proposal to ban payment of the congestion charge through such websites. That is a good idea, which the Government should take on board. In addition, when someone is reminded by letter that they need to renew their TV licence or car tax, they should be alerted to the existence of copycat websites and directed to sites with addresses that end in

Secondly, there should be regulation. When people are stung by copycat websites, there should be only one agency that they can complain to. At the moment, it can be one of three: the Advertising Standards Authority, trading standards or the Office of Fair Trading. There should one number and one website.

Thirdly, there should be legislation. The Government should look again at the Consumer Rights Bill and the amendment that I mentioned. Where someone believes that they are using an official website, but they are being tricked, there should be some remedy in law and some way for them to be compensated for their loss.

Much has been done in this area, but there is still much more to do. I hope that the Minister will look favourably on these proposals and finally put a stop to people being ripped off online.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Gray, and I apologise for my tardy entry.

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Islwyn (Chris Evans) on securing this important debate, and on the clarity with which he described the harm that copycat websites inflict on many of our constituents. As he indicated, they are not always illegal, but they often trick people into paying extra for services provided more cheaply or free of charge through official Government channels.

There are, of course, legitimate third-party services that help people to make transactions with the Government, and we are not here to criticise, for example, the Post Office check and send service for passports, or accounting firms that check people’s tax returns before they submit them, because such services really do add value. However, there are plenty of websites that do nothing other than charge a fee for the regular application or service. As I shall explain, the people who tend to use Government services most are often those who are least digitally literate.

Many Government services are also offered offline, but it is clear that many will be offered only online in future. That has clear benefits for the Government and the people and businesses using those services, but like other Members here, I have been contacted by constituents who have fallen foul of copycat websites, and the Minister must set out for us what he will do to address the issue.

To give one example, a man in my constituency, who was actually comfortable using technology and the internet, renewed a tax disc online. He used what he thought was an official website and was charged an extra fee. He was not a vulnerable person—he was confident about using the internet and digital public services—but he was scammed by this copycat website.

Technology is transforming our lives and will continue to do so for many years to come. It is transforming Government services and the way they are delivered. It has the potential not only to save money, but to empower people. As a country, we are not even beginning to reap the positive benefits that such changes can bring. Technology, and the internet in particular, have often been hailed as forces for freedom, democracy and accountability. As someone who worked as an engineer in technology for two decades before coming to this place, I have spent my life championing the ability of technology to transform our society for the better, as we all want it to. However, technology can also provoke fears and suspicion, particularly among certain groups, and copycat websites are one of a growing number of wider security and consumer rights concerns.

Digital government is a relatively new development in the long history of governance, but the Government have known about the growing problem of copycat websites for some time. As my hon. Friend said, the Opposition tabled an amendment during the passage of the Consumer Rights Bill earlier this year specifically to allow us to look at the sources of mass applications and block websites not providing an actual service. The amendment was withdrawn on the understanding that Ministers were beavering away behind the scenes and that action would be forthcoming. However, seven months have passed, and the only discernible action I have seen is a trading standards press release warning people to

“Wise up to the web”.

When the Minister responds, will he tell us what work has been going on since the debate on that amendment, what is planned and what the timeline is, because I am not convinced that Ministers are doing enough to protect citizens and businesses, or to help them protect themselves? Will the Government support Opposition amendments on this issue to the Consumer Rights Bill when they are re-tabled in the Lords later this year, or will we have more weasel words from Ministers?

When I asked about this issue in a written question in January, the Treasury said that it took no interest in the use of third-party websites, and that it responded on a case-by-case basis. It apparently said that because the Cabinet Office is leading a cross-Government initiative on the issue. The Minister is not from the Cabinet Office, but can he update us on that initiative? Can he at least tell us what it is called and what it has achieved so far?

Ministers need to ensure that individuals, businesses, industry and the public sector are protected as much as possible from digital crime and fraud. Part of that is about ensuring that people have the skills to protect themselves and to be confident online. However, the Government have a lamentable record on digital inclusion and skills. Their own digital inclusion strategy, which took four years to produce, has as its premise that 10% of people will be left behind by technology. I would not say that it was a good start for an inclusion strategy to exclude one in 10 people. Will the Minister therefore explain his view of digital inclusion as one way to address the harm caused by copycat websites?

Right now, as my hon. Friend so elegantly described, many people are experiencing what I call digital discomfort: the sense that the security services know whom we are calling and that Amazon is telling us what we should be buying; concern that online porn is too accessible to our children; or the nagging doubt that the website on which we renew our passport may not be the Government website that we think it is—the one we trust. Not enough is being done across the board to protect and include the most vulnerable. If we do not act quickly to tackle problems such as copycat websites, we risk undermining trust in digital government specifically, and technology more generally. As we know, trust is hard to gain and easy to lose. There is a general issue about trust in digital services, which is why we must work hard to give the public the confidence to put their trust in the digital services offered by Government.

As my hon. Friend mentioned, Ministers announced over the weekend that they would finally take action on nuisance calls. That is a welcome move after years of dithering. It should not have taken so long, or taken so much pressure from Members, to get the Government to move on that. None of us advocates knee-jerk reactions, but copycat websites have long been a growing scam, and I feel that the Minister should now be prepared and able to set out a concrete plan of action.

Some 80% of Government interactions with the public take place with the bottom 25% of society, but only a quarter of people living in deprived areas have used a Government online service or website in the past year, compared to 55% nationally. There are still 5 million households that have no access to the internet because either they do not want it or cannot get it. Millions more do not feel confident using it, for one reason or another, be it security fears or a lack of digital literacy. My hon. Friend the Member for Islwyn mentioned research by Ipsos MORI for the Advertising Standards Authority, which found that those who were less confident online or had low digital literacy were more likely to go on to or use copycat websites. That may seem obvious, but it is an important point. There is a wider issue of digital inclusion that I am afraid the Government do not take seriously enough. We have some excellent digital services. The DVLA is often praised, and the Government Digital Service’s award-winning website recently celebrated its 1 billionth hit.

Further down the track, more and more services will be delivered digitally. Universal credit is one. A copycat website for a tax disc is a problem, but copycat websites for universal credit—should it ever be launched—will be, by an order of magnitude, a bigger problem for many of the poorer and least privileged among us, as well as for the Government.

I am sure that the Minister will talk a lot about cross-departmental working and Cabinet Office initiatives. I know that it is outside his portfolio, but can he tell us what is going on with local government? Research in support of the review of digital government that will soon report to the Labour party has found that local government technology varies considerably. Among local authorities, where so many public services are delivered and where many citizens get most of their experience of Government, there are pockets of greatness but a vastly disparate set of solutions and services. In my constituency, Newcastle council’s trading standards service produces a newsletter informing local groups of the latest scams, including copycat websites, and things to look out for. If we can prevent some scams of that kind at source, local trading standards offices such as Newcastle’s, which is under incredible financial pressure, will be freed to concentrate on other issues.

Research by my office on police capability found that police practices and resources for cybercrime and fraud vary greatly across the country. Again, that issue is outside the Minister’s portfolio, but in his discussions with colleagues has he made an assessment of the scale of the problem and the resources needed to respond, specifically within police forces? On a similar topic, has the Minister had any information from the Government Digital Service on the scale of the problem and of the response required, and the resources it is putting towards addressing it?

Technology offers us an unprecedented opportunity to transform public service delivery. We must ensure that that opportunity is not undermined; we cannot afford to underestimate the possibility. Politicians must champion the positive power of technology and we must not allow emerging threats to stifle the huge opportunities that it offers us, socially, culturally and economically.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Gray. I congratulate the hon. Member for Islwyn (Chris Evans) on securing the debate, and I thank the hon. Members for Banff and Buchan (Dr Whiteford) and for Newport East (Jessica Morden), and the Opposition spokesman, the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne Central (Chi Onwurah), for their contributions.

I share the anger and frustration about the cause highlighted by the hon. Member for Islwyn. I took up the matter when some of my constituents highlighted cases involving passports and driving licences. It was not then formally part of my portfolio, but as my role has expanded, I have had more opportunity to influence the direction of policy. I am pleased to say that I think we are making progress, although I noted that the tone of the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne Central suggested that more progress could and should be made.

To start with my glass half full, I will talk about the success of the Government’s vision for digital by default services, which is driven by a desire to give the public the kind of Government services that they expect. Those are services that are simple, fast and clear, and that can be accessed easily at times and in ways that suit people. There has been a step change thanks to the use of digital services that are now built more and more around the needs of users, not the Government. The Government Digital Service is an unequivocal success story of the present Government that needs to be talked about more, and I hope that whoever takes over—us or them, or anyone—will continue to build on that effective work.

The use of the Government Digital Service has the happy benefit that it saves money. Last year we saved more than £200 million on digital and technology-related expenditure as part of the overall £14 billion of efficiency savings achieved across the Government as a whole, and that was all achieved while continuing to drive improvements in how people access information and services. That is a clear example of how to get more for less.

There is much to be celebrated in the progress we are making, and much of that is down to the head of the Government Digital Service, the remarkable Mike Bracken. There are now 14 new, transformed, digital services being used by the public, and they comply with a stretching Government service standard. Their success is evident. For example, more than half of applications for carer’s allowance now come via the new digital channel. Digital can act as a catalyst for change. However, we recognise that high levels of digital take-up will be achieved only if the public feel confident about using Government services online. As the hon. Member for Islwyn and others pointed out, the problem of misleading third-party websites can dent that confidence.

Let me be clear: sites that try to palm themselves off as legitimate Government services need to be stopped. I am sure that that is something on which we all agree. Abuse involving such services can take a range of forms, all of which can have a negative impact, including brand abuse, which is the misuse of Government logos to imply affiliation with or endorsement by the Government. Phishing—that is with the letters “p” and “h”, Mr Gray, in case you were thinking of fishing, at which you are a dab hand—is the practice by which unscrupulous people try to acquire personal information, such as user names, passwords and credit card details, by masquerading as a trustworthy entity. Scamming websites are third-party sites that levy charges for access to Government services and claim to provide additional services that actually offer little or no value.

The Minister makes an important point, but my correspondence with Government agencies indicates that those copycat websites are operating within the law. There is a compelling case that the easiest way to tackle the problem is through legislation, so will the Minister look again at that?

I will turn to that point in a moment. I agree that some of these websites arguably work within the law. That causes a problem, so I shall explain how we plan to deal with that in a moment.

Citizens can now interact with the Government online by applying for passports, booking MOT tests for cars, obtaining replacement birth certificates and applying for driving licences. I am told that people can also apply online for a licence to be buried at sea. That is the least used Government service at the moment, but now that the application is digital, the attraction may increase. Many Government services are provided free of charge, but some, such as applying for a passport, involve a fee. The process is generally straightforward: follow the instructions and pay the charge—job done.

To find the websites on which to access the services they need, the vast majority of people will have to use an internet search engine, and that is where we come across the first difficulty. Most people inadvertently end up on misleading websites through the sponsored adverts section on search engines such as Google or Bing. The content on the Government’s site,, is optimised to ensure that, as far as possible, it tops the rankings in search engine results but, unfortunately, the sponsored adverts section sits above the organic search results, so people who are unfamiliar with the layout of a search engine page often click on to the misleading website by mistake.

The Government have worked with the search engine providers to understand the terms and conditions they have adopted to guide the use of their sponsored ad slots. Although problem adverts are not necessarily illegal, they often break the search engine provider’s terms and conditions, but sometimes they are not actively removed unless complaints are received. We sat down with the Government Digital Service, Google and Bing to agree a mechanism for flagging adverts and websites in breach of search engines’ policies so that they can be taken down. The arrangements are operating effectively. Departments are working with search engine providers when such sites are identified so that the adverts can be removed. Search engine providers have introduced forms so that users can report problem websites, and we will continue to notify them of sites that are brought to our attention.

When we have discovered, or members of the public have highlighted, the misuse of Government logos, we have ensured that they are removed from offending sites. Such sites have included those for renewing driving licences. When necessary, we have used specialist lawyers. I am pleased that there has been a significant drop in the number of reports about websites misusing our logos and thus misleading users.

Some Government services are hit harder than others. Services that tend to involve one-off transactions are the ones to which such third-party websites offer access, such as for passport and driving licence applications, and for booking driving tests. Infrequency of use creates a problem because the users of services provided by Departments and their agencies may not be familiar with the look and feel of those sites, and the wide demographic base of users limits the impact of broad-based communication and education. That does not make the problem insurmountable, and nor does it mean that education about the best way to access Government services should not be part of our approach to tackle the problem, but we must do that creatively.

A further complication, which goes back to a point made by the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan, is the difficulty of categorising all activities of the websites that we have been talking about as bad or misleading. In 2012, the Office of Fair Trading looked into online commercial practices relating to Government services and concluded that it was not appropriate to take formal enforcement action. Its investigation did not reveal widespread attempts by non-Government websites to misrepresent their affiliation with the Government. Moreover, the OFT took the view that the overall depiction of the sites investigated, including their branding, colouring and images, did not create the misleading impression that they were official Government websites. Many of the sites carried statements explaining the nature of the service provided and disclaiming any official status or affiliation with the Government, and the OFT considered that those statements were sufficiently unambiguous and prominently displayed.

The OFT’s findings and the means by which such sites promote their offerings both bring us back to education. How do we help the users of our services to spot when they are on a Government website or that of a third party? How do we ensure that citizens and businesses can enjoy the benefits and additional value that competition through third-party provision of access to Government services can bring without fear of being exploited?

The number of complaints we receive about misleading websites still represents a small fraction of the total number of service users. Ensuring that the look and feel of Government services become more consistent, as well as providing access to such services through one site, will help our efforts to get users to the right place.

The Minister says that the number of complaints made about copycat websites is quite low. Before raising the matter at last Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s questions, I did some research into scams, and particularly scam mail. Only one in five crimes are being reported because of embarrassment or shame, or because people do not even know that they have been ripped off. Is there any evidence of how many people are not reporting when they are scammed by copycat websites?

I will try to give the hon. Gentleman some evidence before I conclude my speech; otherwise I will write to him. Although he raised the matter at Prime Minister’s questions, I am not aware of the difference between those who report misleading websites and people who choose not to report them, or of what that survey was based on.

We started an education campaign in July using social media to raise people’s awareness that when they want to use a Government website, they should start at To maintain momentum, there has been a focus on Twitter activity in subsequent themed weeks based on some of the main services that are being targeted by misleading websites. We have also worked with external organisations such as Which? In July, it published a consumer piece, “How to spot a copycat website”, which is an excellent guide from a trusted source for the public. We have also worked with digital journalism, and “Government Computing” published an awareness-raising piece on the #StartAtGOVUK campaign. We will continue to work on innovative ways to raise awareness, and any thoughts and suggestions from hon. Members will be most welcome.

We have also been leading a cross-Government approach to address individual complaints. For the first time ever, we have set up a webpage via which consumers can report copycat sites. Full details of that one-stop shop can be found on the website, and it represents a modern and dynamic response that is appropriate to the online era.

I shall talk briefly about enforcement. In March, my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff Central (Jenny Willott), the then Minister, provided £120,000 in additional Government funding to the national trading standards e-crime team to support enforcement action against copycat websites. In late June, four search warrants were executed on properties, leading to the arrest of five people and the disruption of the operation of at least 25 copycat websites. A criminal investigation is ongoing.

Government agencies are individually proactive in this area. The Intellectual Property Office pursues, prosecutes and puts out of business the operators of websites offering copyright-infringing material that can be found through search results. I am pleased that the main search engine providers are fully engaged in supporting us in that.

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs has a robust system that includes the use of a third-party security firm to find and shut down rogue sites that are engaged in phishing activity. In 2012-13, it shut down 560 rogue sites, and it has continued to warn taxpayers to be on their guard against fraudulent phishing e-mails after almost 75,000 fake e-mails were reported to the taxman between April and September this year. Those e-mails promised a tax refund, which is obviously incredibly tempting, and asked for the recipient’s name, address, date of birth, and bank and credit card details, including passwords and their mother’s maiden name. HMRC has worked with law enforcement agencies to help to close down more than 4,000 websites that are responsible for sending out such e-mails. It has made it clear that it never contacts customers who are due a tax refund by e-mail, as a letter is always sent through the post.

People’s behaviour and their expectations of online services are constantly evolving. We do not want to stifle innovation, but nor do we want to impact on websites that honestly and legitimately provide value-added services now, or those that could emerge in the future. I fully recognise that there is still work to be done, and we wrote to all MPs and peers recently to outline what activity we are undertaking.

Opposition Members referred to amendments to the Consumer Rights Bill. I am not sure whether the relevant amendments were debated in the Lords yesterday, but the Government did not support them, as they seem effectively to impose a burden to regulate such websites, rather than outlawing them. However, we will obviously look at any suggestions that the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne Central makes.

To clarify, the amendment is yet to be debated in the Lords. Will the Minister set out his position?

As I understand the position, we oppose those proposals as they would impose a regulatory burden on the Government effectively to regulate these websites. It is not clear whether an amendment will be pressed to a Division, but I will keep in touch with the hon. Lady about the Government’s position, if it evolves.

I agreed with what may have been implied in some of the hon. Lady’s remarks about the need to work more closely with local government. The Government Digital Service has delivered a revolution in how the Government engage with the citizen, and that revolution could well be cascaded down, as it were, to local government. That is not to say that local government is not doing its own pioneering work, however.

The hon. Lady was right to talk about digital inclusion. On one level, I am on the front line of that, in terms of rolling out broadband and mobile services so that people can actually access online services, but the other part of the equation is encouraging people to use those services once they can access them. As she knows, the charity Go ON UK works with 60 stakeholders to encourage people to use these services. Many of the counties in charge of their own broadband roll-out schemes are also encouraging people to get online. We believe that the best way forward is a grass-roots campaign that works with charities that can get out to individuals, or encourage them to come to local community spaces, so that they can see the huge benefits of being online. As we roll out universal credit, the Government should look carefully at how we encourage people to access benefits online.

This has been a useful debate. Although this might not have come across because of my heavy cold, I feel almost as passionately about the subject as Opposition Members. Given the huge success of the Government Digital Service, with a genuine revolution in engagement with the citizen, it is important that that revolution is not marred by unscrupulous copycat websites. The Government have to strike a balance between those websites that are genuinely innovative and provide a useful service, and those that are either simply trying to fleece the customer or, even worse, to phish their contact details and then do even worse things with them. We are raising awareness through our campaign and working closely with the search engines, which is the right thing to do, because search engines are the means by which most people come across these websites. When there is a clear breach of the law, we are using agencies to enforce the law.

Sitting suspended.