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Photos: The Tories' techiest MPs

The men and women who will help shape IT in a Conservative administration
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1 of 4 Nick Heath/ZDNet

The men and women who will help shape IT in a Conservative administration

From the founder of an IT start-up to a computer science graduate campaigning against the surveillance state, the Conservatives count a number of techies among their ranks.

Here silicon.com takes a look at what technology expertise there is within the Tory ranks and how those MPs might bring it to bear in a future government.

Adam Afriyie - Shadow minister for innovation, universities and skills
Leading the pack is the shadow minister for innovation, universities and skills Adam Afriyie - founder of an IT services company.

According to the MP for Windsor, the current Tory line-up is highly tech-savvy.

"This is the most IT-literate the Conservative Party has ever been when taking into account both existing MPs and prospective candidates," he told silicon.com.

His first foray into the tech world began in 1993 when he helped found Connect Support Services - an IT services company specialising in working with small and medium sized businesses.

The company went on to be recognised in the Virgin Sunday Times Fast Track 100 as one of Britain's fastest growing private companies in 2002 and Afriyie still serves as non-executive chairman of the company today.

He has also served as the non-executive director of DeHavilland Information Services, selling his controlling interest in the company to Emap in 2005.

Afriyie's parliamentary responsibilities include serving as Conservative parliamentary leader for technology, media and telecoms and he is the current president of the Conservative Technology Forum.

Afriyie believes technology can be used to improve both the efficiency of government and people's lives, saying: "Advances in computing have generally improved productivity and reduced costs."

The MP is also an advocate of scrapping the ID cards and ContactPoint databases and giving people the power to choose in which databases their data will be stored.

"These days, people want to control their own data, and developments such as cloud computing make data mobility relatively easy," he told silicon.com.

Photo credit: The Conservative Party

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2 of 4 Nick Heath/ZDNet

Jeremy Hunt - Shadow culture secretary
The MP for south west Surrey's experience of working alongside tech companies dates back to 1990, when he founded the IT-focused PR company Profile.

The business attracted several big name tech clients including BT and was eventually sold on to the WhiteOaks Consultancy in 2002.

Hunt went on to found publishing firm Hotcourses, currently the UK's largest publisher of course and college listings guides and websites.

As shadow culture secretary, Hunt has been a staunch critic of Digital Britain, the report by former communications minister Lord Carter that set out the blueprint for future technology development in the UK.

Hunt criticised the report's suggested £6 annual levy on each UK fixed copper landline to fund the rollout of fibre broadband, as well as the government's ability to support its commitment to provide universal broadband speed at up to 2Mbps.

Photo credit: The Conservative Party

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3 of 4 Nick Heath/ZDNet

David Davis - Former shadow home secretary
Davis is a computer science graduate who has held ministerial positions both in the previous Conservative government and in opposition.

He has consistently spoken out on technology issues: during his tenure as shadow home secretary, Davis was a strong advocate for increasing police funding to tackle e-crime and he recently told silicon.com the government funding allotted to the Police Central e-Crime Unit needed to be "an order of magnitude bigger".

Davis is a critic of the security and privacy implications of large state databases such as the National Identity Register (NIR), the ID cards central database, and ContactPoint.

Davis has also recently criticised the Conservative proposals to let NHS patients store their medical records within Google Health.

In 2005 he stood down as an MP to protest against the erosion of civil liberties and was re-elected in the subsequent by-election with 72 per cent of the vote.

Photo credit: The Conservative Party

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4 of 4 Nick Heath/ZDNet

Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones - Shadow minister for security
Neville-Jones is a former chairman of defence technology group QinetiQ and a critic of the government's use of surveillance technology and databases to keep tabs on citizens.

She was chairman of QinetiQ group from 2002 to 2005, during which time the company underwent expansion - acquiring US defence companies Westar Corporation and Foster-Miller, the makers of the Talon defence robot.

As shadow security minister, she has been a vocal critic of how technology is being used to erode privacy.

She is highly critical of the use of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) to access people's communications to tackle trivial offences such as dog fouling and littering and how Ripa powers intended to stop terrorism are now being used by local authorities.

Neville-Jones is also leading the Tory drive to get innocent people's details removed from the National DNA database and to rein in the proposals for widespread collection of details of online communications under the Interception Modernisation Programme.

The Conservatives have pledged to review the powers of the privacy watchdog the Information Commissioner's Office, and Neville-Jones said the commissioner's role "should be one of the most important offices of state in the 21st century".

She believes the ICO has an essential role to play in regulating the centralised government databases.

Photo credit: The Conservative Party

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