Select Committee on European Union Minutes of Evidence

Further supplementary memorandum by Reuters Ltd (Text taken from the e-mail of Ben Wilson (Public Affairs Assistant) of 25 May)

  One subject we mentioned in our initial written evidence which we did not discuss last Wednesday is that of public sector information—the largest potential resource of raw material for the publishing sector. We outlined in our evidence the benefits that a more liberal licensing regime for public sector information would bring, and noted that this is a priority issue in the eEurope initiative.

  My colleague Henry Manisty recently wrote to Lord Haskins of the Better Regulation Task Force in the wake of the publication of the Task Force's report on "Helping Small Firms Cope with Regulation". This report concluded that government departments are failing to meet the requirements of small firms for usable government content, and consequently SMEs struggle to easily access government information and regulations relevant to them. I attach Henry's letter to Lord Haskins FYI.

  Lord Haskins has responded saying that he believes there is a role for private sector publishers to play in the redissemination to businesses of public sector information, and has copied the correspondence to Patricia Hewitt in her capacity as Minister for Small Business.

  This is but one example of why the UK government's approach to the issue of public sector information requires urgent overhaul. We should be pleased to provide more background on this important policy area if that would be helpful.

  I am sending you the latest edition of Reuters Global Regulatory Briefing[10] which I produce on a weekly basis. The Briefing focusses on worldwide regulatory developments of interest to Reuters—mainly e-commerce, telecommunications, financial services and trade. Although it is primarily intended for Reuters personnel around the world it is also sent—free of charge—to a number of officials in the UK Government and in the European Commission. Two articles in the most recent edition, on the International Organisation of Securities Commissions conference I mentioned last Wednesday and on the European Commission's complaint to HMG about Oftel's tardiness on dealing with interconnection complaints, are of particular relevance to some of our comments last week, hence I thought this issue might be of interest to you.

10   Not printed here. Back

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