|Trade and Industry Committee
Trade and Industry Committee Press Notice No. 2A of Session 1998-99 dated
15 January 1999
Electronic Commerce Inquiry: Guidelines for Witnesses
The House of Commons Select Committee on Trade and Industry announced an
inquiry into electronic commerce on 3 December 1998 (see press notice
The committee is anxious to receive as wide a range of submissions as possible.
The Trade and Industry Committee scrutinises the work of the Department of
Trade and Industry. Further background on the select committee system is
The select committee has set itself a wide remit because the Government defines
electronic commerce issues so widely. The committee may, during the course
of its deliberations, decide to focus on some issues at the expense of others.
Recent documents of relevance to the inquiry include DTI's Net Benefit
the Secure Electronic Commerce Statement at
Our Information Age at
recent Competitiveness White Paper at
and the various DTI consultation papers on trusted third parties. In addition,
there is a joint Inland Revenue/Customs and Excise paper on taxation issues
at http://www.nds.coi.gov.uk and
information on the government.direct initiative at
There are two useful papers published by POST (the Parliamentary Office of
Science and Technology) POST 114 on internet commerce and POST 110 on electronic
government. These are available as downloadable PDFs from
The Government is due shortly to produce a consultation paper on its proposed
secure electronic commerce Bill, which will be one of the foci of the committee's
inquiry. The committee would welcome submission of responses made to the
Members of Parliament daily receive a mass of papers. If a memorandum is
to command their attention, it should be brief and to the point. In particular,
it should address the matters raised by the committee's inquiry and concentrate
on the issues with which the witness has a special interest. A typical length
would be about 1,000 words. Essential statistics or further details can be
added as appendices.
Memoranda should be submitted on white A4 paper, single-sided, with each
page (including appendices) numbered. Ideally, paragraphs should also be
numbered. Memoranda should be dated, with the name, address and telephone
number of the person in the organisation who is responsible for submission
given at the end. Memoranda should be submitted to the address at the end
of this press notice.
It is at the committee's discretion to print any evidence it receives. Any
information which a witness would not wish to be considered for publication
should be clearly marked. The committee staff must be advised as soon as
possible of any plans by witnesses to publish memoranda submitted to the
The committee has asked for all written evidence to be submitted by 15 February,
although extensions to that deadline will be considered. The committee may
decide, having read a memorandum, to invite a witness to give oral evidence.
Some Issues of Interest
The committee indicated some of its major issues of interest in Press Notice
This supplementary information is intended to assist witnesses in the preparation
of a memorandum, following on from that initial guidance. Although it would
be helpful if submissions could reflect these issues, the committee would
welcome other and additional approaches to the subject. The committee wishes
1. The Impact of Electronic Commerce
on manufacturing industry, including existing users of EDI schemes
on service industry, including retailers, the financial services and
banking sectors, legal services providers, accountacy firms, computer services
and software firms and internet service providers.
on government, particularly in relation to various electronic government
iniatives, the University for Industry, taxation issues, consumer protection,
law enforcement and intelligence gathering.
The committee is interested in the relationship between electronic commerce
and the strategy outlined in the Government's recent Competitiveness White
Paper. It is also particularly concerned with the exploitation of electronic
commerce by SMEs.
The committee would also be interested to hear from organisations which have
dealt electronically with DTI or its associated executive agencies, including
Companies House and the Patent Office.
2. Government Regulation
which Government regulations, or proposed regulations, are impeding the
development of electronic commerce?
in what areas would it be desirable for the Governement to introduce new
in what areas could Government usefully encourage the development of electronic
commerceeg. telecommunications infrastructure?
to what extent may Government regulation drive electronic commerce "off-shore"
to relatively deregulated environments?
The implications of electronic commerce for intellectual property rights
are of particular interest.
3. Secure Electronic Commerce Bill
The Government's consultation paper on the secure electronic commerce Bill
will be one focus of the committee's inquiry. The committee intends to pursue
a number of issues, including:
the extent to which legislation on the admissibility of digital signatures
in UK courts is required; the propoposed special status for digital
signatures certified by a licensed authority; and issues associated with
the maintenance of authoritative electronic documents over time.
the proposed licensing regime for certification authorities, including
its benefits and costs, regulation and interaction with overseas services.
issues associated with key escrow, including liability, privacy concerns
and technological implications.
The committee would welcome submission of responses to the Government's
4. Global and European Policy Developments
The committee would wish to be appraised of the development of global and
European policy on aspects of electronic commerce and the likely impact of
such policy on the UK.
5. Technological Developments
what are the implications of the development of electronic commerce delivery
modes other than the internet?
what are the implications of the development of new forms of business which
exist almost entirely on-line?
what are the implications of the development of new forms of electronic payment
does Government have a role in promoting the development of systems which
permit low value electronic transaction?
to what extent should Government promote research into new developments
associated with electronic commerce?
Evidence should be submitted to:
Clerk to the Trade and Industry Committee
London SW1P 2JA
Direct line: 0171 219 5778
Previous reports and press notices (from Session 1996-97 onward) can be viewed
Note to editors:
The Committee is appointed under Standing Order No. 152 of
the House of Commons to examine the expenditure, administration and policy
of the Department of Trade and Industry and associated public bodies. It
has the power to send for persons, papers and records.
The Members of the Committee are:
|Mr. Martin O'Neill MP
||Mr. Tony Baldry MP
|Mr. John Bercow MP
||Mr. Roger Berry MP
|Mr. John Butterfill MP
||[C] (Bournemouth West)
||Mr. Jim Cunningham MP
||[L] Coventry South)
|Mr. Lindsay Hoyle MP
||Mr. Bob Laxton MP
||[L] (Derby North)
|Mr. Alasdair Morgan MP
||[SNP] (Galloway and Upper
||Linda Perham MP
||[L] (Ilford North)
| Helen Southworth
||[L] (Warrington South)
Mr. Martin O'Neill was elected Chairman on 16 July 1997