LETTERS: Labour's lead on the network

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From Mr Chris Smith, MP

Sir: Your leading article "Labour dials a wrong number" (5 October) correctly identified the most important group whose interests ought to be considered in the development of policy for the information superhighway as being the consumers. This is precisely why the Labour Party - in line with the trade and industry select committee of the Commons - has adopted its proposal for a measured entry for BT and others into the cable markets.

Your leader writer appears to believe that the only prize achieved for the consumer by Labour's approach would be the commitment to put a link into every school, library, college and hospital. This is, indeed, a valuable prize, but it is not the only gain that we seek to achieve. Our most important aim is to achieve a genuinely nationwide network of broad-band communication links covering the whole country. In addition to this, we want to ensure a truly competitive environment in the future for the provision both of infrastructure and of services across the networks. These would be real gains for the consumer and I am surprised that the Independent should dismiss them so lightly.

Yours sincerely,

Chris Smith

MP for Islington South and Finsbury (Lab)

Brighton Conference Centre

Brighton

6 October

The writer is Shadow Heritage Secretary

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