Digital Britain: 'Most people will be disappointed with it'

Lord Carter’s interim Digital Britain report, published today, has ‘no concrete action, only eight woolly reviews”, the Conservatives said in parliament today.

Shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt suggested the number of reviews put forward were ‘perhaps in homage’to the woman who had eight babies in Los Angeles this week.

Lord Carter’s ‘action one’- to ‘establish a Government-led strategy group’on market-led investment on next generation access networks – was highlighted, and criticised.

Hunt said the report favoured ‘reports over action”, and added: “Most people will be disappointed with it”.

Don Foster, Liberal Democrat MP for Bath, said the report was ‘further evidence that New Labour are high on vision and spin, and short on substance”.

The report includes 22 ‘actions”, which include creating an ‘umbrella body’to bring together local and community networks; a review on the relationship between independent producers and commissioners; and asking Ofcom to ‘make an assessment of its current responsibilities in relation to media literacy”.

But Andy Burnham, culture secretary, defended the report – and said Hunt’s response was ‘disappointing and churlish – I expected better from him”.

‘He has fundamentally misunderstood the importance of the report being published,’said Burnham.

‘He [Hunt] seems to think that the government can simply impose a view and say it’s got to be like this… it’s got to be right to have a strong public – private partnership.”

He added: ‘We are publishing this today so there can be a debate before it’s finalised.

‘If I had come with Lord Carter’s final report I can quite imagine [the response would have been] ‘The Government are imposing solutions’.”

Hunt also said it was ‘disappointing’that some details had been discussed on the Today programme, and published in The Times and the Daily Telegraph, before reaching parliament.

‘I would respectfully suggest to the secretary of state if he’s serious about cross-consultation, he should respect the role of parliament in this issue,’said Hunt.

Newspapers were barely mentioned in the debate, although Burnham said, while answering a separate question, that: ‘local newspapers are a topic we increasingly need to debate in this house”.

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