Examination of Witnesses (Questions 260
WEDNESDAY 23 FEBRUARY 2000
260. Is this something you are going to put
to the e-Envoy?
(Ms Ussher) In terms of education, the Government
has realised that a lot of the budget last year was devoted to
training teachers. That principle has not yet been transferred
into the voluntary sector but there is no reason why it should
not be. The thinking has been done.
261. What has become so important is that when
children may be at school and they have access to a computer,
they may be given one and from then on they are left with no where
to go. They will need these stations or libraries. There has to
be some conscious effort by Government to keep them somehow in
it or otherwise they will just drop out of it.
(Ms Ussher) I agree. I think libraries are a good
Lord Woolmer of Leeds
262. In three, four or five years time, as you
yourself say, with digital television people will be able to access
through a medium they are well used to using, there is a phenomenon
depending largely on PCs, in a sense.
(Ms Ussher) That is right. It was explained to me
that due to previous telecoms regulations with cable companies,
there was some sort of enforcement. They had to target their services
at socio-economic categories Ds and Es. It is this that led to
cable television becoming so predominant, and this could end up
a very good thing when it comes to Internet access through digital
263. Could I ask you few questions about your
trips to Brussels?
(Ms Ussher) Yes.
264. What was the real difficulty that you encountered
there? You say that you could not find who was responsible and
you could not get to information.
(Ms Ussher) This was all via the telephone. My research
so far has just been the social sector and the businesses and
the United Kingdom. I have only been working on the project for
a short time. The next step, once I have realised myself what
the issues are, is to approach the politicians, and I have not
made that trip yet.
265. How did you have this long interview with
(Ms Ussher) That was in my capacity as a reporter
for Silicon.com last November. We featured him at an event organised
by the Centre for European Reform.
266. You say he was quite receptive.
(Ms Ussher) He was really impressive.
267. What went wrong between him being receptive
(Ms Ussher) I do not know.
268. I get the impression you are not bowled
over by eEurope.
(Ms Ussher) No. Commissioner Liikanen was extremely
clued up technically but his proposals in eEurope were, in my
opinion, things which should only be recognised by national government.
I am not saying they are not good targets but they are things
that have been recognised already.
269. Thank you. I think we are coming to a close.
Is there any further point you would like to put to us?
(Ms Ussher) Only one point about United States competition.
Obviously the EU needs to take this into account. The final question
on my sheet, "Should we aim for one hundred per cent inclusion
even at the risk of stifling growth?" I do not think that
this is a trade-off. If the EU aims for social inclusion, it will
provide all residents with basic IT skills, which means that at
the high end of the market there will be more competition, because
software suppliers will have to offer way above that minimum.
And when it comes to competition between Europe and the United
States it means we are that much more literate than they are over
270. When we were at this conference over the
last two days Mr Shapiro admitted they had not found a way of
tackling social exclusion on the Internet.
(Ms Ussher) Which conference?
Viscount Brookeborough: E-commerce Governance.
Chairman: Wilton Park.
Viscount Brookeborough: They admitted that in
America that although they recognised that social exclusion was
a problem they did not have answers to it, they did not even talk
about it, as we just heard.
Lord Cavendish of Furness: That is not quite
true, they were saying that social exclusion was in decline.
Chairman: They did set out quite a platform
of actions which they had taken, removing poverty, the trickle
down policy was working.
Viscount Brookeborough: They accepted they were
open to ideas and they were really in the stage of exploring.
Baroness O'Cathain: Were we all at three different
271. No but the Americans were divided amongst
themselves. It might be useful if you were in touch with the Americans
(Ms Ussher) That sounds like a good idea.
272. Thank you very much, indeed. Sorry to have
kept you waiting so long and quite late. It has been very helpful
for us. If there is anything further you would like to bring to
our attention and you feel would be useful please do not hesitate.
(Ms Russell) Can I make one final point, I believe
strongly in walk with the talk, ie do you have any plans to put
the findings of this on-line and to create a community which is
273. We do have a web page. We have a web page
and we are linked into the European Union web page. We are trying
to keep people abreast with what we are doing. There is also an
opportunity through the web page for people to put their views
into us. I think we are probably the first Select Committee who
have done that.
(Ms Ussher) Thank you very much for giving us the
Chairman: Thank you.