Examination of Witnesses (Questions 320
WEDNESDAY 1 MARCH 2000
BRUCE, MP, MR
320. Do you think we should be and, if so, who
should be the driving force behind moving in that direction?
(Mr Bruce) I believe in the market deciding. We now
have the Dome to fill up next year. This is our opportunity for
one of your Lordships who knows a great deal about this, who was
pushed out of his job recently, to make it work.
321. Finally, I did mention right at the beginning
that I found your appendix G particularly interesting, which was
focused on Europe and the mechanisms there of practices and principles
for European policy formulation. We are having a look at that.
We have been hearing from some witnesses that they do not believe
that, even though Europe perhaps in the past had a good record
of being prepared to listen, there is the right intelligence being
fed into this area of e-commerce and, as a consequence some of
the issues which are emerging are poorly researched, are wide
of the mark and not up to date. You have endeavoured pretty comprehensively
in your paper to cover a fair number of these problems. What have
you done with the paper? What has been the response?
(Mr Virgo) The paper was drafted with quite a lot
of cooperation from officials in both Whitehall and Brussels who
actually wanted to see changes. They helped pull this thing together.
The draft is from industry. We have not yet endeavoured to drive
on making things happen on this, partly because of the European
elections and subsequent events. One of the actions on me which
I have not followed up yet is to try and do a follow-up discussion
session with Commissioner Kinnock, because we think it probably
sits in his area. He was very helpful in the past on other EURIM
activities. Within the United Kingdom, one of the concerns of
the officials in the Cabinet Office was that even if they restructured
the consultation processes how would they get publicity for them
in the press, because publicity is needed to get responses to
consultation exercises. One of the things that is missing from
this brief is that we had not at that point realised the problem
of consultation overload and the need to have the market research
dimension before you have the consultation, to get the consultation
correctly structured. We have not yet done our follow through
on this but it is on the EURIM action programme and I know that
one of my vice-chairmen will be asking me in about a month's time
for the plans for follow through on this.
322. We are going across to Brussels probably
in early May. If you have done any further drafting by then and
you think there is anything that we can usefully take forward
for you, we would be very pleased indeed to do that. You have
a very significant number of people lobbying in Europe. I think
it would be helpful if we could talk to you about suitable people
to meet informally, not necessarily formally, to have a chat with
them about the difficulties that they encounter on the spot in
Brussels. That perhaps might lead us to some views that we could
bring to the recommendations in due course. Finally, if there
is anything you would like us to particularly hear before you
leave, please feel free to say it now.
(Mr Bruce) This is a slightly unusual situation in
that I am going to do a recruitment speech now. EURIM exists to
help the Committee and myself as individual parliamentarians to
work with those who are in the know in terms of industry, academia
etc. I would very warmly ask you if anybody wants to take issues
furtherand we do break these things down to individual
issuesthey might like to join EURIM. The great thing from
the salesman's point of view is that, because you are all parliamentarians,
it costs you nothing and it is extremely useful for us to have
the all party groupings. I hope Your Lordships will also know
that PITCOM is a Commons and Lords Committee. That is extremely
useful from that point of view. The more that we have an input
from both Houses the better. EURIM has been driven both by Lord
Renwick and, sadly, Lord Chelmsford who died recently. Therefore,
all the fresh blood that I see around me is extremely attractive
to the vampire that I have become.
323. It is very kind of you to extend that invitation
to us. How far we qualify to be in the "in the know"
category I am not sure. I should declare a personal interest.
I do some work with Andersen Consulting too.
(Mr Virgo) I did bring a set of notes to help answer
the questions. Would it be helpful if I handed them in?
324. I do not think we have stuck precisely
to the questions.
(Mr Bruce) But the answers are all there.
Chairman: Thank you very much, gentlemen, for
your time. It has been very helpful.