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Lords seek advice from management students

Imperial undergraduates have made history by being the first students and youngest group to give evidence to the House of Lords.

Two groups of Joint Honours students were questioned in May by the House of Lords Select committee on Europe, about e-commerce and its implications for the UK government and the European Union. Their evidence will form part of a report which will be debated in parliament later in the year.

Ten students studied oral and written evidence from numerous companies and authorities as part of their summer projects. One group focused on the perspective of business, looking at aspects such as data protection and security, while the other concentrated on the consumers perspective.

The Management Schools Professor David Targett, who has worked on the inquiry as special advisor to the sub-committee on Energy, Industry and Transport, explained that the students learned about how the Internet affects business today and in the future.

Tackling questions such as how should governments regulate on issues such as taxation and intellectual property, and how can governments protect consumers against fraud, creating an environment of confidence, they analysed evidence and carried out research of their own.

Above left: left to right; Patrick Wogan, Clerk to the Committee, Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe and Professor David Targett at the House of Lords

Above right: left to right; front, Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe Urvi Shah, Kanishka Kurunanayake, Jacqueline Ah-Wong; middle, Puja Gandhi, Todenh Tran, Heena Patel, Aarti Shah; back, Tesfaye Asjaw, Amol Parnaik, Manish Mehta

Student, Manish Mehtha explained: "We sat at the front facing the Lords. The experience was not as intimidating as I thought as we didnt have to stand up.

"We formed two groups of between 10 and 15, and three from each were nominated to present evidence individually. We were also asked questions about the students point of view on e-commerce."

Urvi Shah, not yet 21, is believed to be the youngest person yet to give evidence to the House of Lords. "I was nervous when I started but when I got going I was fine. Talking to people in really high positions scares me a bit.

"Most of us spoke too quickly and were asked to slow down a couple of times. It was a very interesting project and a great chance to visit the House of Lords."

Amol Parnaik considered the project quite an honour; the entire day was something she valued. "Im very keen on e-commerce and would hope that were able to spot things others may not."

Jacqueline Ah-wong echoed her views. "The subject is very interesting, is current and looks at the future - for a project, it was perfect."

Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe, a member of the House of Lords Select Committee on Europe and Chairman of the Sub-Committee on Energy, Industry and Transport, thanked the students personally for their hard work after inviting them to join him for lunch on the terrace at the House of Lords.

Departments and agencies in government operate within insulated containers and do not interact with each other, he explained. A more joined up government was needed and technology would provide the opportunity for that.

"Imperials students did a first rate job. As well as sitting in during oral evidence, they appeared before the sub-committee to give evidence; understandably, they were a little nervous, speaking before business leaders and national companies.

"We were also very impressed with Davids work during the inquiry. The report will be concluded later this month and the outcome could mean changes in the structure inthe way the Commission does business in Brussels."

*** © Imperial College 2000. This article originally appeared in IC Reporter, the staff newspaper of Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine. Please contact the editor Tanya Reed(Email:, Telephone: +44 20 7594 6697) for permission to re-use any or all parts of this article. ***