Adam Afriyie (Windsor): To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what steps he is taking to incentivise departmental officials to bring old Government data sets online in accessible formats.
Francis Maude (Minister for the Cabinet Office): The UK has been recognised as the international leader in data transparency. During our presidency of the G8 in 2013 we led Members to commit to publishing data openly by default as a matter of principle through the Open Data Charter.
Departments are engaging the public and special interest groups about the most important data held by Government (whether old or new); publishing open data strategies and reporting to Parliament on progress on a quarterly basis.
Those data sets that are judged to have the most significant economic and social impact we refer to as the national information infrastructure, and are our priority for making available and accessible.
Adam Afriyie (Windsor, Conservative): To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people in (a) the UK, (b) the Thames Valley and (c) Windsor constituency no longer pay income tax due to changes in the level of personal allowance introduced since 2010.
David Gauke (The Exchequer Secretary): By April this year this Government’s increases in the personal allowance (for those born after 5 April 1948) are estimated to have taken over 3 million individuals out of the income tax system altogether. 384,000 of these individuals live in the south east region, which includes the Thames Valley and the parliamentary constituency of Windsor.
These estimates are based on the 2011-12 Survey of Personal Incomes, projected to 2014-15 using economic assumptions consistent with the Office for Budget Responsibility’s March 2014 economic and fiscal outlook.
HM Treasury does not publish this information at constituency level.
Adam Afriyie (Windsor, Conservative): With such a massive budget deficit, we cannot rely on extra Government spending for ever more, so it seems to me that we have no choice: we have to rely on innovation — both innovative industries and the innovation of our people — to bring economic growth to every region. Today’s satellites can beam high-speed internet access to every region of Britain, instantly opening up remote areas to economic activity. Does the Secretary of State share my vision for a connected Britain in which satellites bring jobs and the power of online public services to every region of our nation?
Jeremy Hunt (The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport; South West Surrey, Conservative): My hon. Friend makes an important point. In the Thames Valley local enterprise partnership, which covers his constituency, the broadband plans are still at amber, rather than green, and I would be most grateful for his help in getting the three unitary authorities to work together to get those plans into a state where they can be approved. He rightly says that we need to be technology-neutral about this; fixed-line fibre will go into the ground in some areas, but for the more remote areas we will definitely need wireless solutions, be they mobile, wi-fi or satellite, and we will keep all options open.