UK e-biz minister shamed in report

Definitely a laughing matter

Britain's minister for e-commerce, Patricia Hewitt, needs to revamp her Web site after it was branded "mildly comic" by a parliamentary publication.

According to an article in the Parliamentary IT Briefing the minister responsible for leading Britain's e-revolution is really an old-fashioned girl at heart, preferring people write to her using a pen and paper instead of email.

"The best way to conact [sic] me is to write to the Leicester office," says Ms Hewitt on her home page.

According to Tom Steinberg, the author of the article: "Miss Hewitt's website is not alone in the mildly comic ineptitude of its construction and flaccidity of its message.

"Labour MP Gwyneth Dunwoody's site is typical, with its inept design, smattering of broken links and absolute lack of character.

"The Tory ranks are also filled with the dead and the dying (Web pages that is), including the completely broken site of Shadow front bencher Eleanor Lang and the 1994-style efforts of John Whittingdale and Peter Luff.

"The list of design errors, sloppy work and criminal blandness from the 97 MPs' sites examined for this article is long and shameful."

Somewhat against the run of play, Steinberg - who works for the public policy think-tank, the Institute of Economic Affairs - singles out Ann Widdecombe's site for praise.

He says: "The Shadow Home Secretary herself maintains a site featuring a regular and fearsome stream of attacks on the government, plus a unique children's section. This is the best place to go (on or off the internet) for a source of fresh, quality criticism of current government law and order policies."

You can read Tom Steinberg's entertaining report on the state of parliamentary Web sites here. ®

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