Michael Wills

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Michael Wills former Labour MP for Swindon North.

Electronic Voting

Written answer Electronic Voting 11 November 2008

The Government are considering what the appropriate next steps are in relation to e-voting, taking account, both of the reports published by the Electoral Commission and the recent consultation on Election day which sought views on other forms of voting.

Written answer Electronic Voting 23 October 2008

The Government do not plan to introduce e-voting for the 2009 European or local elections.
The way forward more generally on e-voting will be informed by the valuable experience gained from earlier pilots, analysis of the responses to the election day consultation, and further development work including the possible further testing of e-voting solutions in non-statutory elections.

Written answer Electronic Voting 23 October 2008

Detailed budgets for future years have not yet been specifically allocated. Further work on remote electronic voting will be funded as necessary from existing budgets agreed for Electoral Modernisation, subject to ministerial and HM Treasury approval. The Government are currently taking stock of the previous work on remote e-voting, including the experience gained in earlier pilots, and the responses to the consultation on election day, to inform the way forward.

Written answer Voting Rights 7 January 2008

In the Governance of Britain Green Paper the Government sets out a long-term aim to investigate the potential benefits of remote electronic voting and to take advantage of emerging communication technologies to provide increased flexibility and choice in the way people vote.
In the immediate term we are reviewing the lessons learnt from previous e-voting and e-counting pilots. This will help to advise our future programme of work for electoral modernisation.
There are no plans in the short term to extend the use of e-voting and e-counting to (i) local, (ii) European Parliament and (iii) general elections.

Identity cards

As a result of Discgate‎ ID cards: Data-protection minister calls for review 28 November 2007

"I think we are obviously going to have to look at the National Identity Register again in the light of this."

FOI consultation

Michael Wills (Minister of State, Ministry of Justice) Written Ministerial Statement Access to Information 25 October 2007

Today I have deposited copies of "Draft Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2007: Response to Consultation" in the Libraries of both Houses. Copies are also available in the Vote Office and Printed Paper Office. I have also laid before Parliament the "Government response to the Constitutional Affairs Select Committee Report on Freedom of Information; Government's proposals for reform" (Cm 7187).
These documents set out the Government's response to the consultation on the draft FOI fees regulations and to the Constitutional Affairs Select Committee Report. They also set out the Government's decision on next steps regarding the fees regulations. We have decided to make no changes to the existing fees regulations. We will deliver a package of positive administrative measures to make better use of the existing provisions to improve the way the Freedom of Information Act works.
The Government are commissioning a review of the "30-year rule"—the date by which public records must be transferred to The National Archives by Government Departments—and the date at which records become "historical". Changes to these would require amendments to the Public Records Act and the Freedom of Information Act, and, taken together, could have the effect of increasing access to Government records. The review will consider the means by which such changes could be delivered and will include recommendations on an appropriate reduction period.
The Government are also publishing today a formal consultation on extending the application of the Freedom of Information Act, by means of an Order under Section 5 of the Act, to a range of organisations that perform public functions. The consultation will run for three months and copies of the consultation paper are being deposited in the Libraries of both Houses. Copies are also available in the Vote Office and Printed Paper Office.
In addition to this, the Government are today announcing their intention to conduct a review of the way we share and protect personal information in the public and private sector. The review and any recommendations will be produced by Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner and Dr. Mark Walport, Director of Wellcome Trust, and published in the first half of 2008.



2007-11-28 - ZDNet - ID cards: Data-protection minister calls for review
Author: Andy McCue
Summary: Plans for a national ID database must be reviewed following the data blunder by Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs, according to the government's own data-protection minister. Speaking at a joint House of Commons and House of Lords select committee on human rights, the data-protection minister Michael Wills admitted he was not informed about the data breach at Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HMRC) before Alistair Darling's public statement last week. Wills said it was "perfectly acceptable" he had not been told in advance about the lost CDs containing 25 million child benefit records, according to The Guardian. But Wills admitted the breach now raises questions about the security of the government's National Identity Register and biometric ID cards. Wills said: "I think we are obviously going to have to look at the National Identity Register again in the light of this."
2007-11-26 - BBC - Data minister 'not told of discs'
Summary: Data protection minister Michael Wills has said he was not told that two discs containing 25 million people's data had been lost before an official statement. He told a Parliamentary committee that Chancellor Alistair Darling was right to focus on resolving the problem. But he said he had had concerns before the discs went missing that data laws needed "toughening up" and a review had already been announced by Gordon Brown. Plans for a national ID register would need looking at again, he added.
2007-08-02 - The Register - UK watchdog calls for an end to 'piecemeal' e-voting trials
Author: John Leyden
Summary: The Electoral Commission has called for the end of "piecemeal" telephone and internet voting pilots in the UK until improvements in security and testing are put in place. The independent voting watchdog said on Thursday that further trials have little merit until the government has set out a strategy for modernising the electoral system and making it more secure. ... Election minister Michael Wills said the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) would study the Electoral Commission's report. The MoJ defended the security and integrity of the trials despite the commission's criticism. "We are pleased that the evaluations point to a high level of system security and user confidence in e-voting systems tested and that the security and integrity of the polls was not compromised," he told the BBC. "These evaluations point to instances where e-counting and e-voting have worked well, and where electors choose to vote remotely by internet or telephone they often had favourable responses to these innovations. The purpose of pilots is to learn lessons for the future and we will do so," he added.
2001-03-21 - The Register - Govt offers Net advice to schools
Author: Kieren McCarthy
Summary: The government, in the form of "learning and technology" minister Michael Wills, has joined forces with one-woman pressure group Carol Vorderman to provide schools with advice over how to approach the Internet. ... Michael Wills had this to say: "As the Internet continues to develop, we must remain constantly vigilant in our efforts to protect children against those who would abuse it. The Internet and email are powerful tools to open up new opportunities for people of all ages. The Government wants everyone to have access to the wealth of cultural, scientific and intellectual material to be found on the Internet. But we are equally determined to ensure that pupils are protected from unsuitable material and that they can access appropriate material safely."
1999-06-29 - The Register - UK gov admits it lags behind on Web
Author: Tim Richardson
Summary: The government has admitted that it is unable to keep pace with the development of the Internet and wired services. "The government can't move as quickly [as the Net industry] -- it is difficult for us," said the minister for ecommerce, Michael Wills MP. "I appreciate the government is slightly slow on its feet but we are developing ways to work with the industry," he said.