HC Deb 13 May 2003 vol 405 cc167-8
24. Mr. Bob Laxton (Derby, North)

What steps the Government have taken towards improving access to public digital services. [112590]

The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Mr. Douglas Alexander)

The Government are committed to providing internet access for all who want it by 2005. Yesterday we launched a national campaign called "Get Started" to increase awareness of the benefits of the internet. During the campaign, people will be encouraged to visit one of those 6,000 UK Online centres, which I mentioned earlier, offering 7 million hours of free internet access.

Mr. Laxton

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer, but why do the Government not just provide every household with a computer if they do not have access to one?

Mr. Alexander

As I said, one of the principal challenges that we face in getting people online is a lack of confidence and skills. That is why we believe that the UK Online centres are uniquely equipped to meet that challenge. People in higher education institutions should have access to mentoring and support. We need to ensure that that is available at every income level and in every community across the country.