E-envoy begs to differ on Blair on-line targets

14 Jun 01
Andrew Pinder, the e-envoy, has admitted to a fundamental difference of opinion with Tony Blair on the government's strategy for delivering services over the Internet.

15 June 2001

Appearing at Microsoft's Digital Britain Summit on June 8, Pinder advocated the efficient and successful conversion of a few key e-government services rather than scrambling to get 100% of central and local government services on-line by 2005.

When asked if the government's pledge to have all public services on-line by 2005 was 'just pie in the sky', he replied: 'I'm not sure if this is a hugely helpful target. I'll probably be in trouble with my prime ministerial boss for saying so because it's his target. I want the focus to be on the main services. We need to get them on-line and get them being used.'

Pinder said the Cabinet reshuffle could have an effect on his work and appeared resigned to Patricia Hewitt relinquishing her role as e-commerce minister. Hewitt has since become the secretary of state for trade and industry and minister for women, with Douglas Alexander taking over as minister for e-commerce and competitiveness.

'Ministers will change. Although the same party is in power, the new ministers do make a difference. They will have individual views on what the new government is going to be doing. Patricia Hewitt had very distinct views of her own and was a tremendous asset,' he said.

The e-envoy, who was appointed on Jan 31, said he wanted to see more financial help from central government to give people the facilities and confidence to get on-line.

He stressed that Whitehall could put more weight behind the drive to roll out broadband Internet access across Britain: 'I think the government can do a little more than it's doing already. The government can try to stimulate broadband through concentrating on procurement. There are also some opportunities for government to produce good content for broadband services, for example by digitising the curriculum.

'We are trying to make sure people can access the Internet. A lot of people can't afford to, or don't have the confidence.'


Did you enjoy this article?