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The development of UK Government policy towards the commercialisation of official information

By Stephen Saxby


This paper examines the development of United Kingdom (UK) Government policy towards the distribution of official information. Originally subsumed within the broader privatisation agenda of the 1980s, the Government appears now to perceive that the market in official information and the public policy issues associated with it are more complicated than at first understood. The development of the Internet as a new medium for electronic distribution of information and the move by many governments to invoke concerted public sector exploitation of the latter, has provoked a major internal review of UK Government plans, that were originally confined to the single issue of the terms of sale of Her Majesty's Stationery Office (HMSO) to the private sector. Once it became known that the Cabinet Office was centrally involved in this wide ranging review of policy, Parliament, commercial publishers and pressure groups have been keen to articulate a view. The Government has also sought, within its review process, to take account of developing policy in the United States (US) and the European Union (EU). For the US a deregulation policy towards official information is beginning to show signs of success in economic terms. For the EU the issue is one of markets and how to ensure that the market for official information develops in conformity with the Treaty of Rome and the Single European Market. A Green Paper on the subject has just been published. This article explores the key features of the debate and seeks to identify how far a coherent national policy is now emerging

Topics: HF, ZA, K1
Year: 1996
OAI identifier:
Provided by: e-Prints Soton

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