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PM gets e-mail service - but no RSVPs
by Susie Hughes at 09:00 26/08/03 (Political News)
In a low-key launch, the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, now has his own e-mail service for the country to use for correspondence direct into the heart of Government. But, readers are advised to write a letter to him if they actually want a reply.
The webmail system is in the format of an online form - he doesn't have an email address as such - and a drop down list of subjects, including regulation and small business; the Civil Service; the economy; the Internet; and this e-mail service.

Shout99 decided to try out the efficiency of the new service with a e-mail to the PM via the regulation and small business section.

We sent the following e-mail.

I am the editor of an online newssite called Shout99 which is a network of nearly 40,000 freelancers.

We are interested in the new email facility which I'm trying out and also would be interested in the PM's views on freelancing and the contribution freelancers make to the UK economy.

Particularly set against some Government policy issues, like IR35 and fast track visas, which seem to undermine their position.

Best wishes
Susie Hughes

The immediate on-screen response said:

Thank you - your comments have now been delivered to the Prime Minister

As Prime Minister, Mr Blair receives so many letters and e-mails from members of the public that it is impossible for him to reply personally. He received over 1 million letters during 2002.

But he does receive regular reports detailing the matters which interest those who contact him. This ensures that he is constantly aware of issues that are important to you.

Over time we will be looking to further expand and improve this system, including making it available via other formats such as digital television.

It then included contact details for the Department of Trade and Industry as well as links and further information about the Government's policies for small businesses and on regulations.

However, even before e-mails are submitted and 'delivered to the Prime Minister' the web site advises that snail-mail is still the best way of eliciting a reply. It says:

"Please note that if the content of your message is private or personal, or you would like to receive a reply, you should write to the Prime Minister instead. The address is 10 Downing Street, London, SW1A 2AA. (The reason for this is that it is relatively easy to create a personal e-mail address without any identity checks. This creates a risk an individual could create an e-mail address in someone else's name and use it to gain access to confidential information.)

"All e-mail messages are read and each month the Prime Minister receives a report on the issues raised, together with a representative sample of individual e-mails.

"Once you have sent your e-mail message, you will have the chance to register for regular e-mail updates in your chosen subject area or submit another message to the Prime Minister."

The e-mail service for the PM is available here

If you wish to comment on this article, please log in and use the Reply button below. Registering is free and easy - see 'Join Shout99'.
Susie Hughes Shout99.com 2003

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