Martin Bell calls for tech to re-engineer government

The man in white, a.k.a. campaigning journalist and independent MP for Tatton, Martin Bell, told a packed House of Commons meeting on Wednesday: "There's a revolution at hand and government has fallen out of touch with people."

Bell was speaking at the launch of Citizen Direct, a new report, written in narrative form describing how a computerised government might affect the citizen in the year 2005. The report calls for government to re-plan its services from the customer's point of view. "All too often, services that are expensive to deliver aren't particularly convenient, well targeted or effective," said Bell.

The author of the report, William Heath, added: "If the new administration is to use IT to improve services and then control and curtail the running costs of the civil service - currently £32.5 billion per year - it will have to accept a wide range of different channels for delivering services... It also means a growing role for self-service at home, in the office and in public spaces by telephone and computer." To make it happen, the Citizen Direct report suggests that leadership will be required from Tony Blair, to guarantee that all Cabinet Ministers and their departments share the vision.

The PM's office was unable to comment at time of going to press, though David Clark, Cabinet Minister for pubic services, did tell Wednesday's meeting that: "We will draw on what IT has to offer to provide better services and redesign the whole structure of these services around the citizen perspective."