Government’s Tech Revolving Door Spins Faster


Lord Carter could be on his way out while founder Martha Lane Fox is in say reports

The main author of the UK government’s upcoming Digital Britain report communications minister Lord Carter could be about to leave Gordon Brown’s government following the publication of the document next week, according to reports.

According to reports in several national newspapers and radio, Lord Carter is preparing to step down from the government to pursue opportunities in the private sector. If the reports prove accurate, Lord Carter will follow Tom Watson Minister For Digital Engagement who stepped down last week amid the government reshuffle.

The exact reasons for Lord Carter’s alleged departure are not clear however there has been some disagreement in government about financial support for broadband deployment in the UK – fundamental to the vision outlined in the interim Digital Britain report released in January.

Lord Carter called for universal 2Mbps broadband access however chancellor Alastair Darling has only promised broadband for “virtually” everyone, and it seems likely that 2Mbps will seem a very low speed, when urban users will have broadband of up to 40Mbps by 2012.

Around 1.5 million households can’t currently get anything like 2Mbps, and about 250,000 cannot get broadband at all. Carter has suggested upgrades to the infrastructure and the use of mobile broadband to fill in gaps.

The budget did not, however, include any large cash injection into next-generation broadband services, which can provide speeds of 40Mb per second and upwards.

But any impact on the technical expertise in government from Lord Carter’s potential departure, could be off-set by the news earlier this week that Gordon Brown appointed two of the UK’s biggest tech industry figures Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Sir Alan Sugar to help his government better engage with the Internet and boost its business credentials.

The government’s tech ranks could also be boosted by the appointment of Internet entrepreneur and founder of Martha Lane Fox. According to reports in Computer Weekly, Fox, who is set to speak at the upcoming NHS Innovation Summit, will come on board as “digital champion”.