HC Deb 02 March 2000 vol 345 cc546-7
13. Mr. Ian Bruce (South Dorset)

What measures he is taking to encourage greater use of the internet. [111544]

The Minister for Small Business and E-Commerce (Ms Patricia Hewitt)

We are driving through competition, to get internet access prices down; we are helping small businesses get the advice and training they need; and we are connecting schools, libraries and community centres to the internet.

Mr. Bruce

I am surprised that the Minister for Small Business and E-Commerce does not know that the Government are not responsible for any of those things. What the Government do know is that they are responsible for the Electronic Communications Bill, and I have congratulated the Department of Trade and Industry on taking out the worst parts of that Bill. Is the hon. Lady aware that her colleagues in the Home Office are busily reinforcing in spades those very developments which will help close down our internet access? Is she also aware that her colleagues in the Committee considering the Utilities Bill said this morning that they are taking out all its telecommunications regulation, and that in this Parliament we shall not end up with any revision of such regulation, which is probably going over to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport? No doubt water is going to the Department of the Environment, Transport—

Madam Speaker

Order. I ask the hon. Gentleman to put his question.

Mr. Bruce

Is not the Minister going to resign, because she has nothing left to do?

Ms Hewitt


Fiona Mactaggart (Slough)

Is my hon. Friend aware that to date the United Kingdom has been a very positive environment for e-commerce, but will she look at consumer issues related to e-commerce and proper protection of consumers against concealed information being taken from their computers when they are using the net and buying things over it?

Ms Hewitt

I recently launched Trust UK, a system of hallmarks for accredited codes of practice, which will enable consumers buying from accredited British websites to know that they are dealing with reputable organisations and that they can deal confidently. I am hopeful that we can get a similar set-up at the European level in order to give consumers the trust and confidence they need in electronic commerce.