back to article Lord Sugar phubbed in peers' debate on 'digital understanding'

Fellow peers phone snubbed (or phubbed) Lord Sugar's speech in a debate last week, which included calls for an ID card system to be resurrected and plenty of hand-wringing about the Government Digital Service. In what might sound like an oxymoron, 32 Lords stepped forward to air their thoughts in a debate brought by Baroness …

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  1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Closing scene of "The Ruling Class"

    See subj^·

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Xz88K9YJOE

    I suggest decreasing the volume if you are in an office though.

    1. My Alter Ego

      Re: Closing scene of "The Ruling Class"

      I was about to watch that, and then decided that I need to watch the whole film as Peter O'Toole is brilliant.

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: Closing scene of "The Ruling Class"

        It's a very good film. Keep an eye out for the hearing prayers gag.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The only way you can ensure that everybody has access to the internet and the skills needed is by introducing a smartcard or an ID card [...]"

    I do not see the logical connection there. How will having an ID card enable someone to afford or be trained to use the internet?

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Logic?

      No logical connection whatsoever, but this is one of our parliamentarians talking, who are famed for their ability to jump to conclusions based on zero facts. I suppose it's an improvement on the usual - deciding a policy despite a stack of contrary facts.

      Personally I have no ID card and have had no trouble accessing t'Interwebs for the last 25 years or so.

      1. m0rt

        Re: Logic?

        " have had no trouble accessing t'Interwebs for the last 25 years or so."

        Obviously you forget the issue of enough channels on your isp for your payment plan of choice in the heady days when v.90 was king*, yet no one got the fabled: 56Kb/s**.

        * ISDN was something only the 1% had.

        ** Imagine this was said by Jeremy Clarkeson

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

          Re: Logic?

          "yet no one got the fabled: 56Kb/s**"

          Not sure that's entirely accurate. I pretty certain that it was possible to get 56kbps to the ISP, but remember that those were the days that big businesses had 1Mbps leased lines for _all_ their internet connectivity.

          You can only connect as fast as the slowest part of the pipe between you and your destination.

          1. caffeine addict

            Re: Logic?

            "yet no one got the fabled: 56Kb/s**"

            IIRC, wasn't 52Kb/s the practical limit of a modem on twisted pair?

            1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

              Re: Logic?

              Don't forget that the start and stop bit weren't necessarily counted by applications measuring the bandwidth (so 10 bits transferred for every 8 counted).

              So practical limit is most definitely <56kbps (and that's not even counting whether or not the application measured kbps as 1000bps or 1024bps)

          2. katrinab Silver badge

            Re: Logic?

            It was possible to get "up to" 56kb/s. In reality it was about 48-52kb/s depending on the quality of your line.

      2. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

        Logical Leaps

        I do a pretty good line in 'logical leaps' for a living, and can feel fairly confident in saying that whilst these leaps can look magical at the outset, they are usually fairly easy to retro-respectively analyse for logic once more information is known.

        This isn't one of those leaps.

        1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          Re: Logical Leaps

          It's pretty easy to figure out what she was talking about. She has joined together various different government proposals, and so is thinking of a dystopian future where everyone will need to have proof of identity before they can gain access to the Internet, with ID cards providing the key - possibly along similar lines to how some banks use a person's C&P card in a personal reader to provide authentication to log onto a bank site.

          In such a situation, an ID card will be a necessity if you want access to t'interwebs, and obviously those who have no ID card will rarely get to do anything online and so be severely hampered in learning how to do anything online.

          1. Loud Speaker

            Re: Logical Leaps

            if you want access to t'interwebs, you will need to use someone else's kit to Google hacking skillz

            FTFY

      3. phuzz Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: Logic?

        "one of our parliamentarians"

        He's a Lord, not a Member of Parliament, so by assuming he's capable of jumping to a conclusion you might well be over-estimating his competence. Half of them would struggle to reach the conclusion of a sentence, let alone a speech.

        1. Captain Hogwash Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: He's a Lord, not a Member of Parliament

          He's a Lord, therefore a Member of the upper house of Parliament.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Logic?

          'by assuming he's capable of jumping to a conclusion...'

          Point of order Mr. Speaker : Lords cannot jump to conclusions. They by tradition they have to 'a-leap' to conclusions. And there have to be exactly 10 of them in order to do it.

          1. Gary Lloyd 1
            Happy

            Re: Logic?

            I doff my hat sir. very witty.

          2. Semtex451

            Re: Logic?

            It isn't even half way into September and already the Easter eggs are out..... etc etc.

          3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Logic?

            "And there have to be exactly 10 of them in order to do it."

            Well done sir! Is 10 enough for a critical mass in a debate?

        3. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Re: Logic? @phuzz

          And yet, Lord Sugar managed to build up several quite successful companies (although there were failures along the way!)

          He is a Life peer, not a hereditary one (they are an endangered species in the Lords). Generally life peers have been appointed because of outstanding contributions to the United Kingdom, so are, by definition, high achievers.

          They get old, true, but I have heard some of the best and most informed speeches in either house from members of the Lords. Often, this is because they have the time and knowledge to be well informed on the subject they are speaking on.

          This is the very nature of the non-elected second house in the UK. Although they may have had some form or patronage to get there, once there, they are independent of the prevailing elected house, so can (and do) act as a moderating influence in UK government, one that is outside of the normal cycle of elections. Put successful and experienced people in the Lords, and you will get a completely different perspective on legislation as it is being debated.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Logic? @phuzz

            Generally life peers have been appointed because of outstanding contributions to the United Kingdom, so are, by definition, high achievers.

            That used to be the case until Blair decided to stack the upper house with failed politicians and has-beens. Now there are very few 'high achievers' in the ranks of life peers - just political hacks.

            1. Andrew Taylor 1

              Re: Logic? @phuzz

              I think you will find that this was started by Margaret Thatcher in order to get some of her more unpopular bills through the Upper House unopposed, whilst not condoning Tony Blair, he was only redressing the balance. Don't let facts get in the way of your prejudice

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: Logic? @phuzz

                "I think you will find that this was started by Margaret Thatcher in order to get some of her more unpopular bills through the Upper House unopposed, whilst not condoning Tony Blair, he was only redressing the balance. Don't let facts get in the way of your prejudice"

                Stuffing the Lords with life peerages via the honours list? I think you'll find that was just "business as usual" from both sides over many, many years. It was Blair who properly set the ball rolling to change things and the ConDem coalition who started actually doing things. Facts are wonderful things.

          2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

            Re: Logic? @phuzz

            Put successful and experienced people in the Lords, and you will get a completely different perspective on legislation as it is being debated..... Peter Gathercole

            Would the best of them, PG, be Round Tablers and Star Chamber Warders?

        4. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

          Re: Logic?

          @phuzz

          Half of them would struggle to reach the conclusion of a sentence, let alone a speech.

          Give them their due credit - some are world renown experts in the field of... fiddling expenses

      4. MyffyW Silver badge

        Re: Logic?

        I think forcing people onto the internet through an ID card is probably the worst idea I've heard this week. And my boss suggested we don't need to retire Windows Server 2003 yesterday.

  3. deive

    "Giddens concluded: "Let us reintroduce human contact wherever we can where at the moment we have robotic automated voices. Let us contain and humanise the robots.""

    So our government want to go backwards? Maybe they should be the ones to do all the dangerous/hard/boring jobs for us then?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "I'm sorry Dave, I can't do that."

    2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Boring jobs?

      I think there are two issues here - automating away mind-blowingly boring or dangerous jobs is one thing, simply introducing technology to reduce costs and jobs (robotic voices on the phone?) is possibly another. What's wrong with having a human answer the phone straight away, rather than spending several minutes on 'press 1 for...' and 'enter your account number' etc (which they ask you for again when you finally get to a human). Big organisation? publish a clear list of numbers that take you straight to specific departments.

      1. Blotto Silver badge

        Re: Boring jobs?

        its because they don't have enough trained humans to answer the calls on demand and use the robots to add delay in the hope that a human will be available once you've done with the robot. They could just train more humans but then the cost of the service goes up, less profits etc etc. Its much cheaper to have a few less humans than they need as typically its not costing them anything (or very little) for you to be waiting on the phone a few mins vs the cost of employing extra humans.

        1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          Re: Boring jobs?

          I'm not seeing the logic there . You have the same amount of people* , they are just more pissed off . You have just shifted the problem x minutes into the future.

          My company has a policy at the moment of not paying bills for 60 days . Shocking . Its as if they think in 60 days the amount will be less,or they will have saved up money , meanwhile this week they are still hemorrhaging cash on bills from 60 days ago.

          I like to think The robot menus do save time and money because the call goes to the correct department in thoery , also ID verification can be done before paying operator to do it , etc etc

          *yes I know some will be so pissed off they will hang up , but thats hardly a solution.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Boring jobs?

            "My company has a policy at the moment of not paying bills for 60 days."

            The counter for this, of course, is an invoice term that specifies a surcharge for paying in more than 30 days.

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Boring jobs?

            "My company has a policy at the moment of not paying bills for 60 days . Shocking . Its as if they think in 60 days the amount will be less,or they will have saved up money , meanwhile this week they are still hemorrhaging cash on bills from 60 days ago."

            Probably an accountants wheeze for a one off big saving at the end of a financial year. A previous employer did something similar. They changed pay day from the 28th to the 1st so we only got paid 11 months in that year and they made a big, one off tax saving. It caused some issues for some staff since quite a lot of Direct Debits were set up for the 1st of the month. The problem is, these sorts of changes are invariably one-offs that can never be used again and may have lasting consequences.

        2. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

          Re: Boring jobs?

          "the cost of the service goes up, less profits etc etc."

          Less profits, yes. It doesn't necessarily follow that the cost of the service goes up (to the consumer).

          In these days where we pay the same for 'things' that we used to, yet the 'things' are substantially 'less' then I can only think that it's all about squeezing the last iota of money for the least amount of product.

          Take Mr Kipling's Apple Pies for instance. My wife bought some last week and discovered a thin slice of apple sauce and two tiny chunks of apple in between all the pastry - they didn't used to be that stingy with the filling, yet they still cost £1.60

          Also, shops/producers still make profits from items that are marked down to half price - what does that tell you about their 'normal' price.

          I know we're talking about the service industry and wages etc. - but in this day and age it should be possible to have 'work from home' call staff plugged in to the system and keep costs low. Imagine all those people who struggle to find suitable part time work being able to log in and handle calls for a company whilst being at home, convenience is worth more than a few extra quid to some people (especially when the convenience is the difference between earning a few quid extra or not at all)

      2. theN8

        Re: Boring jobs?

        "What's wrong with having a human answer the phone straight away, rather than spending several minutes on 'press 1 for...' and 'enter your account number' etc"

        Because humans cost more money than the technological equivalents of Dante's 3rd level of hell.

    3. phuzz Silver badge
      Terminator

      "Let us reintroduce human contact wherever we can where at the moment we have robotic automated voices."

      Are we certain that that wasn't just a back-handed insult to the current Prime Minister?

  4. Alex Read

    Amazon delivery drivers... with no breaks

    The tax avoidance & paying of under minimum wage was bad enough but this is just cruel!

  5. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

    I can't say that dinner with Lord Sugar would capture all my attention...

    ...either.

    1. Spanners Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: I can't say that dinner with Lord Sugar would capture all my attention...

      I am sure that I would sit straight, not put my elbows on the table and eat in a manner of which my mother would have approved!

      I have seen on TV that he does have a nice sense of humour but I would let him start with the frivolity..

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We already have a profile in the 'cloud'

    Probably very true.

    It is (IMHO) beholden on those of us who are aware of this technology to do two things

    1) Make more people aware of the snooping that goes on

    2) Minimise the amount of data that is added hourly/daily/montly to our profile.

    This will (I hope but I don't think it will) limit the amount of social engineering (aka manupilation) that the likes of Facebook etc can do to us..

    As I don't have and never will have a google,fb, twitter, hotmail etc account I am doing what I can to limit my presence to these people/companies.

    As for HMG? They couldn't organise a pissup in a distillery when it comes to getting IT systems to work. Eventually, they will get their act together and then BB will be on the rampage.

    Oh, and Hey you 'Amber Rudd', You are FIRED!

    1. sysconfig

      Re "Oh, and Hey you 'Amber Rudd', You are FIRED!"

      If only!

  7. B*stardTintedGlasses

    "Cross-government platforms such as Verify are designed for the user so that digital government is consistent and easy to deal with. Their use by departments is set to save billions of pounds, yet they are resisting their use."

    Baroness Finn has an interesting way of looking at things. I mean, how about looking at WHY they are "resisting" hard enough for you to know about it. Clue - it might be because it's shit.....

    Mind you, it smacks of a touch of "The plebs are RESISTING the decree of their betters, how DARE they?!"

    1. dvd

      I had to use Verify the other day. I found it a fucking nightmare and I've got a degree in Computer Science. Lord knows how less computer literate manage.

  8. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    1995 called , They want their politicians back

    1. 's water music

      1995 called , They want their politicians back

      1995 here. No we don't. And while I'm here, you can have several of ours if you like.

      1. Spanners Silver badge
        Go

        1995 called , They want their politicians back

        1995 here. No we don't. And while I'm here, you can have several of ours if you like.

        1895 here. I think they belong to my grandpa.

    2. Wensleydale Cheese

      "1995 called , They want their politicians back"

      I remember that.

      They had the decency to resign when caught up in a scandal.

  9. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    Go and look at it, eh?

    I think that it is Bagehot who quotes someone as saying the cure for admiring the House of Lords is to go and look at it.

    "I deduce from this that something cannot be right."

    That is not a deduction. It is an inference, and might charitably be called induction. (Perhaps we should introduce a method of logic suitable to legislatures: the sillygism.)

  10. Adrian 4 Silver badge

    Phubbed

    I don't think that's a word we need. Snubbed is adequate : there's no necessity to have a variant for every possible channel of communication.

    1. Semtex451

      Re: Phubbed

      "If we don't know what the old words are, we'll just make up some new ones"

      What's the word for that? - Idiocracy.

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