HC Deb 23 January 1991 vol 184 cc225-6W
Miss Emma Nicholson

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps his Department is taking to facilitate the move to open systems for hardware and software.

Mr. Leigh

The Department is currently playing a leading role in promoting the uptake and use of open systems across business. It is contributing significantly towards generation of international and European open systems standards. Many of these standards are now being implemented by IT suppliers in new products and systems. Encouragement is being given towards establishing a United Kingdom open systems interconnection (OSI) conformance testing facility. Harmonisation of European and international certification schemes, essential for providing assurance that products and systems conform to open systems standards, is being promoted.

The Department's programme of open systems technology transfer (OSTT) aims to make all sectors of industry, both public and private, aware of the business benefits that can be achieved through use of open systems. As part of this programme the Department is assisting in the production of a comprehensive guide listing computer products which are available in the United Kingdom, conforming to open systems standards. Progress in the development of open systems standards for use in the public sector has enabled the Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency of Her Majesty's Treasury to produce the United Kingdom Government OSI profile (GOSIP). This advises Departments on how open systems interconnection standards may be adopted when implementing their IT computer procurement programmes.

Mrs. Dunwoody

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what is the present level of his Department's investment in safety-critical software systems.

Mr. Leigh

The Department of Trade and Industry uses administrative computer systems which by their nature do not raise issues of safety. However, as part of its responsibility for stimulating best practice in the software industry, it has led the "Safe IT" initiative to stimulate action to improve the reliability of safety-related software and systems. The consultative document, launched in June 1990 in conjunction with several Government Departments represented on the Interdepartmental Committee on Software Engineering (ICSE), includes proposals for standards, training and education, research and development and technology transfer. The Department's aim is to stimulate action which will reflect the concerns of all interested parties—from Government Departments through professional institutions arid suppliers to all users of safety-related systems.