At the recent Internet Business exhibition and conference held in Brighton, a state of the nation forum discussed whether the Government was doing enough to make the UK the world's leading e-commerce country. The RIP and IR35 Acts were addressed, as was the thorny issue of the unbundling of the local loop. Here follow some of the views expressed by the panel:
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"I think it would be naive, as some people have suggested, to think that multinationals would simply not invest in the UK because of the RIP Act. Yet they would look very carefully at the RIP Act and that would be one of the considerations a multinational might weigh up in deciding whether to invest in the UK." (Nigel Hickson, head of e-business, CBI).
"I'm no big fan of contractors at all. In fact, we went totally offshore for all of our development. I think education in this country is so bad when it comes to IT, both in schools and at university level, that the chances of recruiting anyone is difficult. I think that IR35 will at last bring some semblance of normality to the industry and introduce a level playing field." (Iolo Jones, chief technical officer, Interactive 1).
"The fact is that all the multinationals have high-speed access. You go out and get a high-speed cable into your office, and you've got that competitive advantage against the small, early-stage start-ups. So the people who are suffering in this are the SMEs and the really early-stage companies. My belief is that these are the guys who really generate innovation in the economy. If you're preventing how these guys can innovate, then you are potentially cutting off the people who will push the big companies forward." (Jason Purcell, CEO, FirstStage Capital).
"I think the Government has done a tremendous amount over the last two years to push e-business, in terms of UK Online, the Government Gateway, putting various standards in place, the e-envoy's office. From our point of view, we see those things as very beneficial." (Paul Diamond, director of information risk management, KPMG).