British MP clarifies position on Digital Britain report following backlash

The Liberal Democrat MP for North Cornwall attracted criticism on the messageboards of this website after hitting out at the printing of the report.

Referring to the printing costs associated with the report, he said: “Taxpayers are bound to ask why it’s necessary to spend so much printing a report that should be about having less paper in our lives, not more.”

However, Rogerson has said that the objection to the report was the cost to the taxpayer of printing it and not the printing of the report itself.

In a statement to PrintWeek, he said: “Having got hold of a printed copy of the Digital Britain report myself, I was struck at the very high quality of the print.  It was for that reason that I put in a speculative Parliamentary Question about the cost, not just to get an idea of what had been spent on printing but to see how many copies are distributed free of charge.

“It turns out that a very large proportion of these reports were sent free to Parliament and to other organisations.  I am always sceptical about the merits of sending expensive reports out in large mailshots, since they are necessarily costly and the ‘scatter-gun’ approach quite often means a lot of waste.”

He continued: “I’m not saying for a moment that people should only be able to access this material online. Far from it. I know myself that it’s much more comfortable and effective to read long documents from paper copies, but my parliamentary questions also established that ordinary members of the public pay a whopping £26 mark-up on the cost price of the report, if they obtain one from The Stationery Office. 

“Surely it would make more sense for the government to write to those it thinks will be interested, inviting them to order a copy free of charge, and to make that same offer to the public through the DCMS (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) website.  Then we could be confident those copies we print are read, and are valued, as they should be.”

He added that, as a member of the All Party Parliamentary Print Group, he would always argue for publications to be available in hard copy as well as online.

Rogerson’s statement followed a joint letter from the BPIF and Unite seeking clarification from the MP in response to his comments.

The letter said that unions were “astounded to read” Rogersons’ comments and added: “As a member of the All Party Parliamentary Print Group of MPs, Rogerson should know better. He should certainly be aware that paper is one of the world’s few truly sustainable products.

“The Digital Britain report, which was released last month, sets out the government’s strategic vision for ensuring that the UK is at the leading edge of the global digital economy.

“Our industry is playing a full part in helping Britain achieve this vision, with more and more print companies using digital technologies to add value through their customers in areas such as personalised print, web-to-print, integrated cross-media communications solutions and database management.”

To read the BPIF and Unite letter in full click here.
To read Dan Rogersons MP’s reply in full click here.

Read the original article at www.printweek.com.

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