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Multi-Media And Information Technology

Volume 569: debated on Thursday 29 February 1996

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asked Her Majesty's Government:How they intend to ensure that the United Kingdom derives maximum benefit from opportunities in developments in multi-media and information technology.

The Government see the development of multi-media and information technology as an exciting area of opportunity for the UK in which much is already being achieved. These technological innovations are having an important impact on all aspects of our way of life. In the future there will he further opportunities for business to develop new products, services and ways of working; for individuals to adapt their work patterns; for consumers to improve their quality of life with new electronic products and services; and for the providers of services such as health care, education and training to strengthen their quality and delivery.The Government have been committed to the comprehensive development of these technologies since the early 1980s. By freeing up the market for our telecommunications and broadcasting industries through privatisation and deregulation and promoting the use of computers in schools we have made sure that the UK is in the vanguard of technological change. We arc now undertaking a further range of initiatives, most recently through the Information Society Initiative launched last month.A strong lead is rightly being given by the private sector's enterprise and initiative. That will continue to he supported by a focused and complementary partnership with Government. In order to reinforce that focus and driving force across Government, my right honourable friend the Prime Minister has asked the First Secretary of State and Deputy Prime Minister to convene a Ministerial Group with the following terms of reference:

"To identify and take forward significant cross-departmental initiatives to ensure that developments in information technology are exploited to the full in the national interest."

In addition to the chairman, members of the group will he as follows:

  • President of the Board of Trade
  • Chief Secretary, Treasury
  • Secretary of State for National Heritage
  • Secretary of State for Education and Employment
  • Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
  • Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. David Davis)
  • Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Science and Technology, Department of Trade and Industry (Mr. Ian Taylor).

Other Ministers will he invited to attend for items of which they have a departmental interest. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister's Efficiency Adviser and Chief Scientific Adviser will also attend.

The work of the group will build on the Information Society Initiative and the separate activities of the Central Information Technology Unit recently set up in the Office of Public Service to plan the Government's own use of technology. By these means the Government will ensure that there is strengthened stimulus and co-ordination within and beyond government to enable the UK to derive maximum benefit from the new technology.