Liberal Democrat MP Dr John Pugh says the government is discriminating against those who use non-Microsoft software. Many government services are now available online, but according to Pugh most will only run under Windows.

Speaking to GC News yesterday, Southport MP Dr Pugh said: "Why can a Mac user not be able to apply for benefits online?"

Dr Pugh is also a member of the Public Accounts Committee. He made the comments during a Commons adjournment debate that he had called to debate the role of Microsoft software.

"If a company built a road down which only a Ford car could go, there would be an outcry," he said. Some of Dr Pugh's comments during the debate were more direct, accusing Microsoft of "predatory pricing and stultifying competition". He also said there was a "damning" range of preferential treatment for the company from the government, adding that the Government Gateway ( Directgov) "is actually owned by Microsoft".

Breaching European Union regulations

Dr Pugh challenged the government's supposed-neutrality "level playing field" in the Commons this week, according to public sector site Kable.

He said the government's policy "is, in part, in breach of European Union regulations" on such competition.

"The Driving Standards Agency driving theory CD-Rom can be used only on Windows computers," said Dr Pugh.

"The Revenue website has limited functionality for the Firefox web browser [while] The Department for Work and Pensions online benefits system can be accessed only by those who have a Windows computer.

"Those who have Unix or Linux computers or who use Mac computers should simply not bother."

Treasury minister Angela Eagle replied by saying that the government was making more use of open source software, specifically in the main online portal Directgov and at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). The site has 6.5 million visitors a month she said. "Some open source projects cannot meet our needs for quality or security," added Eagle.