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Interview: shadow Cabinet Office minister Chi Onwurah MP

Charlotte Jee | April 9, 2015
Shadow Cabinet Office minister Chi Onwurah MP on Labour's plans for digital inclusion, data sharing, public services online, SMEs, broadband and 'Government as a Platform'.

Labour sees it as "a great opportunity in terms of architecture for IT reuse and shared systems", she says.

But Onwurah can't resist a dig at the outgoing administration. She claims Labour's stance contrasts with the Conservative party's view of Government as a Platform as an "ideological opportunity" to get government out of the way and increase the role of the market of public services.

She acknowledges there will be organisational and technical challenges. "You need an architecture that is not too centralising. But doesn't mean that every one of the 433 local authorities should be all building their own bespoke solutions. They clearly have shared requirements," Onwurah says.

Universal coverage

Many of the plans under discussion rely on better mobile and broadband connectivity - so what is Labour's plan for that?

Onwurah complains the government has failed to come up with "any kind of long-term vision" and stifled competition by handling all broadband delivery contracts to one company: BT.

She says shadow culture, media and sport ministers Chris Bryant and Helen Goodman are currently examining whether and how to make universal service commitment to broadband a legal obligation.

Onwurah adds: "We have better high speed coverage since 2010, but we still have areas that haven't even got decent coverage. That's really impacting businesses. We need consistency so that people can rely on it.

"Just as you expect to be able to get a glass of water, you should be able to expect to get decent coverage."

 

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