Conservative Conference: More radical thinking needed on IT

The government is not thinking radically enough on how IT could improve public services, politicians at the Conservative Party Conference said yesterday.

The government is not thinking radically enough on how IT could improve public services, politicians at the Conservative Party Conference said yesterday.

West Midlands MEP Malcolm Harbour said the UK's performance in technology areas, particularly software development, needs to improve. He said, "I think we should be doing better than we are. We do not seem to be playing the sort of role in software that we should be."

But he added that UK retailers are some of the best companies at successfully applying IT. "We are good in retail - Tesco, for example, is arguably the world's biggest retailer, and that is because it has been so successful in the way it has deployed its systems."

He was speaking at a meeting of the Conservative Technology Forum.

Charles Hendry, MP for Wealden and shadow minister for energy, industry and postal affairs, said spending on procurement needs to be re-thought. "Government spends around £4bn on research and development, and £125bn on procurement. We should be using the procurement budget more sensibly than we do at the moment."

Harbour added that one of David Cameron's aims in government would be to delegate power to local authorities, and this would create a need for IT systems on a smaller, local scale, instead of big, centralised systems.

He said, "We need to be encouraging investment in innovative new technology and rethink completely the process of delivering public service. We are not thinking radically enough. We need to think about how we are going to encourage the development of the next big ideas in software platforms."

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