Examination of Witnesses (Questions 460
WEDNESDAY 15 MARCH 2000
WYATT, MP AND
460. In which countries in the EU do you regard
the governments as being most in tune with the changes in policy
you would like to see?
(Mr Adams) I think we would say as one voice the Nordic
(Mr Wyatt) Principally, and I do not want to offend
them, essentially they are city states. They are smaller, very
middle class, very high income and very high ownership. To be
honest, if you take Nokia, for instance, it is working so closely
with the Government, it is the most amazing relationship. Like
Singapore, these are city states. In a sense Australia, Melbourne
gets it quickly but, again, it is a city state in a way. It is
much harder when it is a larger country or has huge numbers of
people, which is our problem.
(Mr Adams) I think there is an attitude as well if
you look at Canada and Australia. I would class South Africa,
too, as an interesting example where there is a character about
the nation which again is something I wish we could define, it
is one that says "let us not question too much, let us decide
instead to move ahead and make progress". That attitude means
when I am in South Africa and I am in Johannesburg in the offices
of the company I have been with for 18 years, I see them reading
their on-line newspapers and I see them having all the printed
daily newspapers in a pile on the floor and I go back to my United
Kingdom office and I see them sitting there reading the papers
and I think in the South African culture they just use on-line
as if it is part of life. There is something about South Africa,
Canada and Australia that they have just got it. There is something
that you see in the United Kingdom time and again that says we
have not quite got it. Is it reserve or is it caution or is it
fear? These things we must try to identify and resolve. It is
a very tough job.
Baroness O'Cathain: Indolence.
461. So if you are taking your chart and numbers
out of ten, you are putting the Scandinavian countries at the
top with Canada and Australia, ahead of the States?
(Mr Wyatt) The States is bitty. It is good in parts.
(Mr Adams) I think most definitely yes in one sense,
because of their use of the mobile. Look at DoCoMo in Japan and
how people walk around every day with telephones connected to
a 9,600 board, an extremely slow speed, but they use the phones
for extremely silly things like sending messages with smiley faces,
like the Japanese are extremely famous for doing and yet it somehow
engages people, people like doing that. It has no great purpose
but they like it. That mobile communication, the way it engages
people, is a critical difference, as I am sure you know by now,
between the two continents. That is a supreme hallmark where we
do have a different approach in Europe which is very positive.
462. So you are putting the Scandinavian countries
ahead of the States, as you see it?
(Mr Wyatt) I would say Sweden and America are very
similar currently. I am not so familiar with Denmark and Norway,
but Finland is very high on that list.
463. You mentioned the nature of the relationship
in Finland between the industry and the government and the nature
of the relationship in the States is quite different, is it not?
(Mr Wyatt) Fundamentally different. That is why it
is more difficult to say how strong America is. It is strong in
various sectors and parts but it is also very weak with Caribbean
Americans, African Americans, Hispanic Americans, very low ownership
464. What we are seeking to understand is the
nature of the way that policies develop on these issues in different
countries in particular with regard to Europe and how it is co-ordinated.
Finland is quite different from the States.
(Mr Wyatt) I think it is the community. The community
is more intelligent and closer. When I say "more intelligent"
I mean in the sense of intelligence, it is closer, it is a smaller
(Mr Adams) There is also an economic imperative that
the large companies in those countries are mobile telecom companies,
Ericsson and Nokia are 60 per cent of the Helsinki stock market.
The whole government has got to make that company work. The same
applies in Sweden.
465. We have been told that it is the reluctance
of our population and the ageing population to actually use computers.
It has also been suggested that Europe will be ahead of the USA
on interactive digital televisions. If they come in in about five
years' time do you see a sudden increase in the number of people
who use computers, even older people who are more used to watching
television in that if they are given a box they will play with
it and become used to it?
(Mr Wyatt) I think we can hold our head up and say
that the Symbion Project, which is led by Psion and has Ericsson,
Nokia, Motorola and Panasonic in it, is going to start off this
process all over againit is voice activatedonce
you do not have to type, once you can say to the television set
"please send this e-mail to mum. Hi, mum, how are you, love
dad", or whoever, if you could say to this book "hello,
take a letter". This is not via voice, this is not IBM's
clunky stuff, this is really nimble voice data identification.
This is just mind blowing. If you add that to the fact that the
Teledesic network of McCaw and Gates will go out maybe at the
end of this year, certainly by Easter of next year, that is 300-odd
low orbit satellites which is mobile internet, goodness me, that
means anything you have on you, a pen, a watch, your mobile, whatever
it is, is connected. I cannot get my brain around that.
Baroness O'Cathain: I do not want to.
466. Therefore, do you not think that our worry
at the moment is not misplaced but is unnecessary because it will
change in a different way?
(Mr Wyatt) I saw some of the Teledesic team last August
in Phoenix and I said to them "do you talk to Government?"
and they said "Government?" I said "yes" and
they asked why. I said "do you think we should put the social
security thing up there and access it?" and they said "goodness
me, social security". I said "it is pretty obvious,
is it not, if you have got the data up there we can access it".
It had not occurred to them that there was actually a Government
need, they were thinking military and they were thinking business
and obviously consumer. I think that goes back to a point I made
earlier. In the way in which Government runs there is no innovation
minister whose role is not to make policy, not to run around on
committees, but just to listen and just to be in the Teledesic
office in Seattle, in Phoenix, just to see the Symbion and say
"Prime Minister, this week I have done this and this, can
I tell you this is its impact for our country and our policy".
We are reactive all the time and that is my worry.
467. This is Teledesic?
(Mr Wyatt) Yes.
468. We will make a note of that.
(Mr Wyatt) Their European office is in Waterloo. I
have their address and e-mail if you wish.
469. It would be helpful if you could let us
have that. Finally, when you wrote the later paper, Mr Adams,
you stated: "In regards to democracy, the true test of the
Internet will come in this year's US presidential elections, but
we hope to see that it will enhance participation by citizens
in the democratic process, with all the social benefits that this
brings." What do you anticipate is going to happen that will
(Mr Adams) The decline of citizens' trust in their
institutions is a matter of record and it is a matter of great
concern to me. I believe that trust in Government and the operation
of Government will be enhanced as people find that they can have
a voice and do have a role. That leads to greater civil stability
and a society at ease with itself.
470. What do you envisage happening that will
be different using the internet?
(Mr Wyatt) I was in Washington two weeks ago looking
at the McCain and Bush activities and Gore and Bradley. With McCain,
on a daily basis he was raising about $15,000 an hour off his
471. It did not do him much good though.
(Mr Wyatt) Before the website there would not have
been a way for the whole of America to participate in a primary
in a single state. That changed all the rules of engagement. He
should have been long gone in conventional political terms almost
before the first primary but actually that enabled him to stay
longer and almost, to be frank, upset a candidate who was blessed,
anointed, with $70 million. As well as that it also meant that
each of the states had to engage with the rest of the states in
their primaries. That was a first. So each primary was more like
a mini national election. That was fundamentally different. That
will change again, I think, in quantum leaps between now and November.
472. You do not think that was exaggerated by
the fact that I know they did raise that sort of amount of money,
which was very good? I am just wondering what proportion of the
population was really involved in that, five per cent?
(Mr Wyatt) As you know, McCain struck a chord with
people who had never voted before.
473. I know, but I still do not think it was
very large, making some money out of those five per cent of the
(Mr Wyatt) No, but it is not a comparator unfortunately,
the primaries are closed and open and it is more complex. I do
not think we have got the knowledge yet to be able to come to
a firm conclusion.
Chairman: Thank you, that is a useful point
at which for us to conclude. Thank you very much for your submissions
and thank you for coming.