HC Deb 08 July 1998 vol 315 c1062
9. Mr. Lawrie Quinn (Scarborough and Whitby)

What steps he has taken to permit individuals to supply information electronically to Government. [47927]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Office of Public Service (Mr. Peter Kilfoyle)

The Government have been working closely with the public and private sectors on identifying new ways to enable people to supply information electronically to Government.

Last December, we launched the "intelligent" form, which enabled people to register as self-employed at a bank. That model has now been extended by the launch of the Post Office-led "Open for Business" pilot, which enables people to register as self-employed in a post office, library, a community-based "telecottage" or local government office. As my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy has said, the Barclays bank Endorse project, which uses a smartcard-based digital signature service, enables registration on the internet to take place in people's homes.

Mr. Quinn

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Does he agree that many people are phobic about information technology? If we go for a process of open government under which the citizen will be allowed to provide feedback, many people who are allergic to IT will need assistance and encouragement. What are his Department's plans to encourage that process?

Mr. Kilfoyle

In reality, many projects are being encouraged, not just by my Department but by Government, to raise the standard of IT literacy throughout the nation. There will be a parallel approach to the fulfilment of the information technology era. Hard copy forms of information and electronic forms will run contemporaneously. There will always be those who lag behind new developments.