MPs to scrutinise tech industry

MPs are set to examine whether Britain is living up to the targets set for its tech industry - including whether jobs have been created, or lost to outsourcing

Broadband availability and offshore outsourcing to places such as India are to come under scrutiny from MPs as part of a wide-ranging examination into the health of the UK's IT industry over the next year.

The House of Commons Trade and Industry select committee will investigate why the UK is not measuring up against government targets set at the height of the technology bubble.

Martin O'Neill, chairman of the select committee, told ZDNet UK's sister site silicon.com: "It will be our intention in the course of the year to look at the IT industry as a whole. At the height of the bubble various milestones were put down. We want to see to what extent that optimism was misplaced as well as the seepage of jobs that we thought we were going to be good jobs in the UK to places like the Indian sub-continent."

It will not be a formal inquiry but O'Neill said the committee will examine the penetration of broadband, e-government targets and whether the UK has become the best place to do e-commerce in the world.

Following BT's move to open a 2,200 person call centre in India, three of the UK's main unions, Amicus, CWU and Unifi, launched a campaign in June to lobby against the trend for moving operations offshore as a danger to "jobs and the economy".

O'Neill said the committee will be meeting with BT to discuss the move in the context of the state of the wider call centre industry.

The first meeting of the committee after the Parliamentary recess will take place next month, when a more detailed scope for the investigation is expected to be drawn up.

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