Power of Information Taskforce

Oral Answers to Questions — Duchy of Lancaster – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 12th November 2008.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Jim Cunningham Jim Cunningham PPS (Mr Mike O'Brien, Minister of State), Department for Energy and Climate Change 11:30 am, 12th November 2008

What recent progress the Power of Information Taskforce has made; and if he will make a statement.

Watch this
Embed this video

Copy and paste this code on your website

Hide

Photo of Tom Watson Tom Watson Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office), Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

The Power of Information Taskforce was set up in April to embrace Web 2.0 technologies. In particular, we look into how we can encourage people to innovate with non-personal information, and how government can take part in online conversations in the public services.

Watch this

Photo of Jim Cunningham Jim Cunningham PPS (Mr Mike O'Brien, Minister of State), Department for Energy and Climate Change

Given that the west midlands leads the way in digital technology, what is the taskforce doing to develop that technology, particularly to assist public services?

Watch this

Photo of Tom Watson Tom Watson Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office), Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

My hon. Friend is right. A number of agencies in the west midlands pioneer digital technologies. I commend to him the taskforce's Show Us a Better Way competition; he can type "Power of Information Taskforce" into any search engine to find the details.

We believe that citizens can help the Government to design public services in a better way, and that co-production is the way forward. So far, 450 people have entered the competition, and I am pleased to say that it has been a tremendous success. People as far away as the United States of America, India and Australia have followed our example.

Watch this

Photo of Mark Todd Mark Todd Labour, South Derbyshire

Reports have repeatedly shown that Government data provide a valuable base for added-value product development in the private sector, and that regulating private sector providers appropriately, educating them better on the assets that they hold and a more liberal approach will build new business. Does my hon. Friend agree?

Watch this

Photo of Tom Watson Tom Watson Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office), Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

I entirely agree. There is no doubt that our advance towards freeing up data and making existing public sector information more accessible to our digital entrepreneurs enables them to add value to the United Kingdom economy, and I hope very much that Government policy will take us in that direction.

Watch this

Photo of James Gray James Gray Conservative, North Wiltshire

I am glad that the Government have a Power of Information Taskforce, but does the Minister agree that, in addition to power, great risks are involved in the holding of too much information electronically?

In his answer to my right hon. Friend Mr. Heathcoat-Amory, the Minister said that he could not possibly announce the number of electronic security breaches, but then went on to say how proud he was of having been so open and transparent about the issue. Will he now undertake to inform the House every time that there is a such a breach?

Watch this

Photo of Tom Watson Tom Watson Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office), Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

I do not think it would be helpful to reveal to the hon. Gentleman the nature of the attacks that are made on Government IT systems, although I can assure him that they are investigated thoroughly. When it comes to changing the culture, it is important for us to reveal incidences of data loss so that the public and private sectors can learn from the mistakes that have been made. I remind the hon. Gentleman that the Power of Information Taskforce deals only with non-personal data.

Watch this