HC Deb 20 July 2004 vol 424 cc154-6
25. Mr. Colin Challen (Morley and Rothwell) (Lab)

What progress is being made against the target to put all Government services online. [184913]

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

Current figures show that 74 per cent. of Government services are already online, and Departments continue to work towards the target of 100 per cent. availability by 2005.

Mr. Challen

That reply shows the marvellous progress that has been made in getting Government services online. However, some people will always be excluded from using the internet, and pensioners are probably the largest group in that category. They might benefit a great deal if the internet were rolled out to post offices. They could access services, print forms and perhaps get advice from a sub—postmaster or mistress on how to complete them.

Mr. Alexander

I am aware that in the past there have been numerous discussions with Post Office management about the availability of an electronic platform. The initiatives that the Post Office has taken in banking in recent years are evidence of the fact that they can embrace new services. However, as I said earlier, with 6,000 UK online centres across the country, there are now plenty of opportunities to gain access to the internet. The real challenge is to ensure that people have the skills and aptitude to use it effectively, and that work continues.