§ Baroness Byford
asked Her Majesty's Government:
How they propose to arrange for all rural dwellers to have manageable and affordable access to the Internet so that they can access the employment rights advice provided by the Department of Trade and Industry. [HL3475]
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville):
Internet access is available to all those who have a telephone line irrespective of location. An Ofcom survey at the end of 2003 showed that UK Internet prices are cheaper than all other countries for peak narrowband metered and unmetered services. For off-peak services UK prices are below average for both metered and unmetered services.
However, some people cannot afford the cost of a computer to connect to the Internet and others actively choose not to invest in that equipment. Currently take-up of the Internet stands at 53 per cent of households. The option exists to visit one of the many People's Network Internet terminals in public library branches throughout the UK. The latest survey by Museums, Libraries and Archives shows the People's Network in England made 44 million Internet hours available last year, and 11.7 million user sessions were recorded.