Stephen Timms welcome for EURIM Dragon's Den at Brighton

Stephen Timms, Financial Secretary to the Treasury as well as Minister for Digital Britain has confirmed that he hopes to be able to drop in for part of the EURIM Dragon’s Den on 30th September, starting at 12.30 in Meeting Room 3 of the Hilton Hotel. Stephen has in any case sent an advance message of welcome giving his own views,


“All the topics you will be looking at are important.  The more MPs we have at Westminster who understand them the better. 


Internet Governance impacts priorities from social inclusion to safety and security.  Alun Michael, one of the EURIM Directors, is chairing the tri-partite approach announced in the Digital Britain Action plan.  The Nominet Best Practice awards are a good example of the industry addressing its social responsibilities. 


Better use of ICT is central to improving public services affordably, but the challenges go much wider than the technology.  I am pleased Atkins is contributing its broader PFI experience to the EURIM briefing.


IBM is a good example of a company knowing that it depends on the UK being a location of choice for their customers as well.  We need others like them willing to work with us for better regulation.  If local employers bend your ears on this during the campaign ahead, do ask them for specific changes they want to see.


I worked in the IT industry before I was elected – and wrote a book about broadband communications in 1986!  I welcome the work of PITCOM and EURIM in bringing politicians and industry together to make better policy: on harnessing technology to address social inclusion; better service delivery; democratic involvement and accountability in policy making and implementation.  It is becoming more important still as the whole of society comes to depend on efficient, reliable on-line systems, and as those without access are increasingly at risk of disadvantage.


I welcome the offer from the EURIM council of associate membership for candidates.  I hope you take advantage of it, to be better briefed, both before the election and after you are elected.”


Stephen was on the EURIM Council before he became a minister. One of our current Directors, the Rt Hon Alun Michael MP, chair of the UK Internet Governance and the new Tripartite E-Crime Initiative, also hopes to be with us for part of the Den.


Dragons set their own rules but I anticipate a format similar to that at the LibDem conference,


Hamish Sandison (candidate for Monmouth) is already an industry representative on the EURIM Council and will say a few words of welcome. David Butler from Atkins, Bob Gilbert Chairman of Nominet and myself will then do short presentations on Public Service Delivery, Internet Governance and “Getting the jobs of the future to YOUR constituency”. The Dragons will then cross-examine the speakers and make their own comments.


Julian Ware-Lane  (Castle Point) and Mike Robb  (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey) have IT industry backgrounds and have agreed to lead the questioning. 


We have another four Dragon’s who will ask why they, without IT backgrounds, should take the issues seriously enough to raise during the campaign and after they are elected. 


At least one of the journalists who covers public service delivery, e-democracy, social inclusion and other IT related issues of mainstream political concern plans to cover the event so do come and join us if you have a pass for the security area.


After the we will aim to help the candidates with press release and publicity for their comments.


I hope that we will have a good attendence from the industry lobbyists present at the conference. They may not like some of the messages but if the IT industry is to repair its reputation with politicians and public it is important to understand what that image is and why. Hence our format – to “educate” the industry at least as much as the candidates. Thanks to the support of Nominet and Atkins we will have soft drinks and sandwiches for up to 50 in a room that will hold 70.  


P.S. I hope to be able to blog shortly on what was said at the “Look before you leap” briefing for candidates from all parties organised on Thursday by the IT Livery Company, the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists. It was off-the-record and there were good reasons why. I am therefore waiting to hear what, if anything, speakers and candidates would like to be quoted as having said.


In the mean time, a retired civil servant in the audience explained why systems like tax credits or child support have such problems. They assume we can design orderly systems to meet predicted needs, with overlays to handle flexibility.  But those in most need of support commonly lead chaotic lives: lurching from crisis to crisis, changing jobs and addresses (if they have either) before the system has caught up with the last one. We need to design for chaos as the norm, not the exception.