Smartcards

Oral Answers to Questions — Duchy of Lancaster – in the House of Commons at 1:40 pm on 4 February 1998.

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Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour/Co-operative, Huddersfield 1:40, 4 February 1998

What plans he has to utilise smartcards for the delivery of public services. [25369]

Photo of Dr David Clark Dr David Clark Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Cabinet Office, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

The new technology of smartcards will form a major part of our better government programme, allowing us to modernise public services and deliver flexible, user-friendly packages to our citizens. My Department is focusing on using smartcards to put electronic signatures on electronic forms, which will make life much easier for business people and ordinary citizens. The Government are exploring ways of using smartcards to make life easier for citizens in their dealings with government.

Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour/Co-operative, Huddersfield

Has my right hon. Friend examined the experience of France and Germany, which use smartcards extensively in their health services? The process saves an enormous amount of money and a lot of the filing that takes up much of the accommodation of hospitals and general practitioner surgeries. Will he consider whether that experience is applicable to Britain, which has the leaders in smartcards in our leading-edge supermarkets?

Photo of Dr David Clark Dr David Clark Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Cabinet Office, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

We are examining all sorts of ways of using smartcards. We are aware of the experiments and work undertaken in Germany and France. There is a project involving the Benefits Agency and the Post Office to consider how to use smartcards and other cards for the delivery of benefits. That will involve considerable new investment under a private finance initiative for the Post Office. We are exploring along the lines that my hon. Friend suggests.