Digital Economy Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:17 pm on 13th September 2016.

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Photo of Matthew Hancock Matthew Hancock Minister of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) (Digital Policy) 6:17 pm, 13th September 2016

I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman’s supportive comment about how the Government have done on digitisation. We have made a huge amount of progress and are one of the world leaders. Some states find this process easier, partly because of national culture. Estonia bases its Government digital services on a universal identity system that we disagree with here; it has a much more willing approach to having an ID card system than the UK does. Also, by its nature our country is more complicated and much bigger, so things are more complicated here, but we can learn a lot from the brilliant work Estonia is doing. I have personally worked with the Estonian Government to take the lessons and apply them in our own context.

There were three areas in the debate that really got the House going. The first was age verification. Incredibly strong speeches were made on that by Fiona Mactaggart, the hon. Members for Rotherham (Sarah Champion) and for Bristol West (Thangam Debbonaire), my right hon. Friend Mrs Miller, my hon. Friends the Members for Devizes (Claire Perry), for Congleton (Fiona Bruce) and for Eastbourne (Caroline Ansell), and others. Age verification is an incredibly important step forward. Legislation is in place to deal with the online abuse that many Members also raised—the cyber-stalking and harassment—and, as Members of Parliament, we all understand the challenges that we face on that. We remain committed to improving online safety; it is a challenging area, but we will continue to work to push that forward. The views of the House will be key to that process.