Conservative Technology Forum: government must do more to boost IT

The government needs to do more to encourage UK companies to invest in IT, according the chair of the Conservative Technology Forum.

The government needs to do more to encourage UK companies to invest in IT, according the chair of the Conservative Technology Forum.

Malcolm Harbour, who is also part of the West Midlands Conservative MEP team, said compared with other countries in Europe, the UK "underinvests" in technology.

He said the Labour government has allowed technology to slip in terms of priorities.

"The government started off with intentions of giving technology high priority, but it has become a bit more disaffected over the years. It is sometimes rather difficult to see eactly what direction their policy is now going in," he said.

He said he would like to see public procurement being used more strategically, "We would like to see public procurement put more into play as a vehicle for encouraging technological investment."

The Tory policy for IT is based on "David Cameron's themes", with a focus on localising services, Mr Harbour said.

"We would like to see how technology can be used to support bringing more responsibility to local communities and citizens, and allowing them to make more decisions and access services at a local level.

"Trends in technology systems seem to be working in favour of that approach, whereas they seem to be going against having a very centralised approach."

Two main issues they will be focusing on is security, including issues such as e-crime and privacy, as the government looks at putting more citizen information on national databases.

"I am not sure we are really doing enough to protect our critical national IT infrastructure," said Mr Harbour.

"In terms of privacy, citizens have to be very confident in terms of how their data is going to be managed. They want to have control over what government departments have access to their information. So far, this has not been done."

He said the role of the information commissioner will get more important as these changes are implemented.

"The commissioner will have an increasingly important role, and it will be more focused on public services data," he said.

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