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U.K. E-Commerce Minister Is Ineffective, Say Dot.Coms

[May 19] In the run-up to Internet World UK 2000, leading dot.coms have criticized what they say is the U.K. Government's poor support of e-commerce, with only 7 per cent believing the minister in charge to be effective.

The survey, conducted for Penton Media's Internet World, will come as a shock to the Government, as Prime Minister Tony Blair has taken a high profile stance in support of e-commerce, saying he would make the U.K. "the best place to trade electronically by 2002."

Only twenty per cent of the dot.com and blue chip companies in the survey were aware that the U.K's e-envoy is Alex Allen, whose primary role is to help businesses get online. 35 percent of respondents thought Virgin boss Richard Branson would do a better job.

E-commerce Minister Patricia Hewitt fared even worse, getting a mere 7 per cent approval rating, while only 15 per cent of respondents thought the Government as a whole was helping e-commerce. 72 percent said the Government should give e-commerce a higher priority.

Phil Nelson, Internet World's show director, said it was time the Government started listening to what e-business leaders are saying and begin to act on their advice. In particular, he regretted that the prime minister had been unable to give the keynote speech at this year's show.

"It's a pity he can't make it, because the show would have provided him with a perfect platform from which to reinforce the Government's commitment to UK.com," said Nelson.

John Griffiths, managing director of e-commerce specialist Intershop -- one of the survey respondents -- said that the Government needed to move faster if the U.K. was going to become a major contender in the global race for e-leadership.

"The very concept of 'Bills' and 'Committees' and 'Envoys' misses the point!" said Griffiths.

Internet World UK 2000 will be held in London's Earls Court, May 23-25.



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