The main UK political parties have now released their manifestos, and V3.co.uk was keen to get a better idea of the different technology plans each has put forward for citizens, society and the IT industry in general.
In the first of our tech election specials, we spoke to Labour MP Stephen Timms, minister for Digital Britain and financial secretary to the Treasury, who gave an interview to V3.co.uk on his party's plans on issues such as the national broadband rollout, open-source technology and the controversial copyright clauses recently passed in the Digital Economy Act.
Broadband for all
Labour's promise to provide the UK with universal broadband access at 2Mbit/s by 2012, and establish next-generation broadband for 90 per cent of Britain by 2017, were the topics Timms was most keen to discuss in the interview.
The agendas underpin the government's commitment to deliver increased online public services.
"Rolling out next-generation broadband is a very high priority of ours in the next few years. The UK has had the worst downturn since the 1930s, and the government needs to support growth. High-speed broadband will maximise this growth in the UK," Timms said.
Labour plans to use a 50p a month levy on all phone lines to fund the extensive broadband plans. Timms insisted that Labour will not shelve the proposals, even though they had recently been scrapped in the government's Finance Bill. He said that Labour will try to bring in the phone levy again after the election.
"The levy will allow us to deliver next-generation broadband services to two thirds of UK rural areas," said Timms. "It is important to underline how we have to get on with this, and that we cannot hang around for three years for the licence fee."
Timms was referring to the Tory Party's proposals to wait three years before considering whether to use a portion of the BBC licence fee to implement 100Mbit/s speeds by 2017.
The Conservatives hope that universal next-generation broadband will be delivered by creating more incentives for businesses to enter the market currently dominated by BT.
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