UK Online’s impact on MPs panned

UK Online, the Government’s multi-million pound advertising campaign aimed at encouraging people to use the Internet, is failing to have an impact on MPs, says the director of the Hansard Society’s “e-democracy” programme.

Dr Stephen Coleman says MPs are failing to use new technology to communicate with constituents and are “in danger of becoming irrelevant”. This is despite two high-profile advertising campaigns this year.

In a bid to improve the situation, the Hansard Society has launched a guide, sponsored by Compaq, which explains how ministers and MPs can make use of the Internet to communicate with constituents.

The move follows the launch of a campaign by UK Online, through D’Arcy, to encourage Internet use among the public.

The publication teaches MPs how to handle “information overload” and “e-mail etiquette”. It also give details of new hardware – such as pocket PCs – and SMS messaging. The guide will be given free to all MPs.

UK Online was set up with the aim of providing everyone in the UK with access to the Internet by 2005. D’Arcy won the &£5m advertising account from Ogilvy & Mather in August.

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