HC Deb 20 July 2004 vol 424 c152
21. Mr. Terry Rooney (Bradford, North) (Lab)

If he will make a statement on the recent appointment of the head of e-government. [184908]

The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Douglas Alexander)

On 25 May 2004, the Prime Minister announced the appointment of Ian Watmore as the new head of e-government. He was recruited through open competition in accordance with the civil service commissioner's recruitment code. Mr. Watmore takes up his post in September 2004.

Mr. Rooney

I thank the Minister for his reply. Does Mr. Watmore's experience at Accenture impinge on the duties that he can perform, and what will he bring for the constituents of Bradford?

Mr. Alexander

I am glad to say that Mr. Watmore's appointment has been very well received—not just within the supplier community, but in the trade press. People recognise that having a big hitter coming into government is further evidence of the seriousness with which the Government take this area of work. A protocol has been established and agreed, which means that he will not be involved in business decisions concerning Accenture, his previous employer. I believe that constituents in every part of the country will welcome the rigorous focus on project management that he will bring to a huge programme of work centred on securing value for money in our e-services.

Mr. Richard Allan (Sheffield, Hallam) (LD)

The Minister will know that one of the biggest e-government projects over the next few years is likely to be the IT programme for the NHS. What role, if any, will the head of e-government have in that respect?

Mr. Alexander

That is a huge project for NHS procurement. A specialist team in the Department of Health works under Richard Grainger. He previously worked closely with Ian Watmore, and I am sure that he is looking forward to working again with the new head of e-government. We are determined to make sure that we have a centre of excellence for e-government at the heart of Government, and that we draw on the expertise in Departments. The evidence is that the NHS project is on track, and that tremendous work is being done.