§ Mrs. Renée Short
asked the Secretary of State for Industry what plans he has to introduce a new national programme for information technology; what discussions, and with whom, he has had about this; and if he will make a statement on progress to date giving details of the various initiatives he is pursuing.
§ Mr. Kenneth Baker
The Government consider the development of information technology to be of great importance for the future of British industry. I have been given special ministerial responsibility for the subject and522W the Department of Industry has been reorganised to give it a stronger focus. In order to encourage further the development of a competitive industry the Government have said that they will use their own purchasing power to pull through new developments; and one of the effects of the British Telecommunications Bill will be to allow the competitive supply of terminal equipment for attachment to the communications networks, and of information technology services. I shall introduce further initiatives as the need arises.
The Government are also giving urgent consideration to the recommendations made by the Advisory Council on Applied Research and Development in its report on information technlogy which are intended to provide the framework of a national programme; and will be responding on this as soon as possible.
In drawing up its policies the Government have the benefits of a continuous exchange of views with a very wide range of interested parties and senior representatives of industry.
§ Mr. Gwilym Roberts
asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will carry out a study into the relative efficiency experience of firms which were having a continuous holiday from Monday 22 December or Wednesday 24 December up to Monday 5 January 1981, as compared with firms which were having shorter holiday breaks for Christmas and New Year separately.
§ Mr. MacGregor
[pursuant to his reply, 12 January 1981, c. 465]: My right hon. Friend does not plan to carry out such a study, which could not be undertaken without disproportionate cost.