HC Deb 11 November 1999 vol 337 cc727-8W
Mr. Austin

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent assessment he has made of the impact of telecommunication costs on the development of e-commerce; and if he will make a statement. [98394]

Ms Hewitt

The Cabinet Office's report e-commerce@its.best.co.uk (http://www.cabinet-office. gov.uk/innovations) provides a useful analysis of the issue of access costs. It confirms that the structure and level of tariffs affects on-line behaviour and that some UK tariffs are disadvantageous, but concludes that action is being taken. It recommends that telecoms operators be encouraged to offer a wider range of tariff options.

The Government are committed to ensuring the wide availability of fast and affordable Internet access and believe that competition is the best way to deliver this. The Government want to see operators responding to competitive pressures by offering a broader range of Internet tariff options to allow heavy e-commerce users and light users to choose the optimum package for their usage profile.