The latter have well-established channels of communication
with Parliament, based on the office of the Parliamentary Clerk.
Channels of communication between Parliament and the regulatory
bodies, including OFTEL, are also needed. The problems associated
with a lack of cross-departmental co-ordination are often brought
into focus by the enquiries of this Committee since, unlike the
Departmental Select Committees in the House of Commons, its work
encompasses the activities of a wide range of Government Departments
In evidence to the Select Committee on Public Services on 2
July 1996 the Deputy Prime Minister suggested that "the whole
ethos of public sector life [and] the overheads that all of us
impose ... in terms of the name and the notion of public accountability
... [do] not actually deliver a great deal of public accountability
in the vast majority of cases ... I personally think that that
is an unnecessary constraint upon potentially wealth creating
operations" (Q 410 of that Committee's evidence).
A recurring theme of OFTEL's evidence, which also referred
to the likelihood of the market for advanced applications taking
the form of "a mosaic of independent service providers and
network operators" (p 30).
Competition and Choice: Telecommunications Policy for the
1990s (March 1991), Cm 1461, p 25.
Cm 1461, p 26.
12. Regulations restricting the services which can be offered
by BT, Mercury and certain other PTOs.
13. Creating the Superhighways of the Future: Developing Broadband
Communications in the UK, Cm 2734 (November 1994), 10.
14. As the Director General of OFTEL said in his evidence (Q 1048):
"The most important thing all of us can do, including myself,
is to stop arguing about the finer detail of BT's licence or when
precisely a ban on national broadcasting might not be lifted and
try and invoke some sense of confidence about how this technology
can be deployed, how teachers can be equipped to use it, how the
Health Service can be equipped to use it better and so on."
15. Creating the Superhighways of the Future, 13, 15.
Video Cassette Recorder.
We note the Government's announcement of their intention to
publish a Green Paper, based on the work of CITU, in autumn 1996,
"charting the way forward on the use of information technology
across the civil service". (House of Commons Hansard,
11 July 1996, cols. 594-595).
Information Society Initiative factsheet, Information Society
Issues in Brief.
The Lord Privy Seal thought that the ability to fill out one's
income tax form electronically whilst discussing it with an official
would be "of extraordinary interest" (Q 1054).
In recent evidence to the House of Commons National Heritage
Committee (3rd Report, 1995-96) the Minister for Science and Technology
spoke of the close co-operation between the DTI and the DNH (p
32) and the Secretary of State for National Heritage did not consider
that all the information superhighway responsibilities should
be gathered together in one department (p 39): The Structure
and Remit of the Department of National Heritage (HC 399).
Information Society Initiative factsheet, INFO2000: financial
support for model projects.
From the experience of the House of Lords in making arrangements
for its own publications available in electronic form the Committee
are aware that very tight electronic delivery standards for large
publishing projects, for example, in the case of House of Lords
Hansard, 9.30 am on the morning after the sitting day concerned,
may only be guaranteed by paying a premium rate over a more relaxed
delivery timetable. The latter seems to apply at present to the
electronic publication of some Government documents.
AJ Kennedy, The Rough Guide to the Internet and World Wide
Web (Penguin, November 1995), 287-292. On-line lists of cyber-cafés
in the United Kingdom and world-wide are at http://www.cyberiacafe.net/cyberia/guide/
DTI Multimedia Industry Advisory Group Report (December 1995)
p 73. Similar views were expressed in the Department of National
Heritage's Public Library Review (1995), recommendation 3.1.
FreeNets, or Community Nets, are public or community information
services. The Heads of Departments and Schools Committee of BAILER
said that because of the pricing policies of telecommunication
services these had been relatively quick to emerge in the USA.
"Some State authorities, eg Maryland, have been particularly
vigorous in promoting community access and these may provide a
model for the UK." (p 572)
House of Commons Debates, 18 April 1996, cols. 938-940.
United States Advisory Council on the National Information
Infrastructure, KickStart Initiative: Connecting America's
Communities to the Information Superhighway (January 1996),
The scheme will only accept PCs, with a minimum specification
See Appendix 8, paragraphs 69-71.
US Advisory Council on the National Information Infrastructure,
A Nation of Opportunity: realizing the promise of the Information
Superhighway (January 1996), 14.
See Appendix 8, paragraph 64. The North Carolina Information
Highway is also used to deliver health care in prisons.
Science, vol. 271, 22 March 1996, 1675.
IN Purves, "The paperless general practice", British
Medical Journal, vol. 312, 4 May 1996.
POST, Working at a Distance - UK Teleworking and its Implications
(June 1995), 33-34.
Information Society Initiative factsheet, Teleworking and
flexible working. Back