Telecommunications, Media and Information Technology

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Industry – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 5 February 1998.

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Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms Labour, East Ham 12:00, 5 February 1998

What assessment she has made of the European Union Green Paper on convergence of the telecommunications, media and information technology sectors. [25692]

Photo of Mrs Barbara Roche Mrs Barbara Roche Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Small Firms, Trade and Industry), Department of Trade and Industry

Both the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and the Department of Trade and Industry have circulated the Commission Green Paper for consultation to a wide range of United Kingdom interests. The Government intend to prepare a response to the Commission Green Paper on the basis of the replies that we receive to our consultation. Getting the framework right is vital for development of the information super-highway.

Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms Labour, East Ham

I think that my hon. Friend will agree that the offer made by BT and the cable companies to connect every school in the United Kingdom to the information super-highway demonstrates that the Government are grasping the huge potential benefits of the changes described in the Green Paper. In the months ahead, as she discusses those matters with her European counterparts, will she impress on them the benefits of maximum choice for users of telecommunications services—as demonstrated, for example, by the fact that UK telecommunications charges are considerably less than those in other European nations.

Photo of Mrs Barbara Roche Mrs Barbara Roche Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Small Firms, Trade and Industry), Department of Trade and Industry

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. I congratulate both the cable industry and BT on their imaginative offers to schools for internet access—which is another example of the Government working in partnership with industry to improve United Kingdom competitiveness. I shall certainly continue to impress on my European colleagues the benefits of choice in telecommunications, which has resulted in huge benefits to United Kingdom consumers.