Global Economics

Britain Held Back by Tech-Illiterate MPs


UK business and innovation is being held back by a lack of MPs with relevant knowledge and understanding of technology.

A poll of silicon.com readers revealed little faith among voters that the Houses of Parliament contain anywhere near the level of necessary experience in IT.

An overwhelming 72 per cent of respondents said they believe a shortage of IT experience is hampering UK innovation and business, compared to 23 per cent who believe the problems that UK businesses face are more deeply rooted and IT understanding would do little to help.

A further three per cent of respondents said, perhaps controversially, that people with an IT background are not well suited to becoming good statesmen.

Self-confessed techie and Tory MP for Welwyn Hatfield, Grant Shapps, told silicon.com that if MPs fail to understand the benefits technology can deliver the result could be flawed legislation that badly impacts UK citizens or businesses.

One infamous example was the DTI's ham-handed handling of an anti-spam consultation, which led to UK computer users and businesses being lumbered with flawed laws.

The recent ID card debate also suggests there is a gulf between what the government wants to achieve and its understanding of the technological challenges that exist in implementing such a scheme.

Shapps added that, at the very least, MPs should be using technology on a daily basis to make themselves more organised, more efficient and better prepared to serve their constituents.

He said: "Being IT literate isn't everything but if you're having to rely on your staff to do your typing, if you're failing to use IT to organise your diary and you haven't the faintest idea about e-campaigning, then you're certainly giving yourself a serious handicap as a modern MP."

The findings of the silicon.com poll follow a report earlier this week accusing the government of failing to support the UK's knowledge economy.

Links:

The Weekly Round-Up: 12.05.06

Leader: The IT power crisis

Will's Web Watch: At the heart of web 2.0

Quocirca's Straight Talking: How Linux is hurting Microsoft


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