The UK government's attempt to promote ecommerce is falling flat, with the Ecommerce bill's future in doubt and the post of 'Digital Envoy' in limbo.
The Parliament's trade and industry select committee is due this week to publish a highly critical report of the bill and may even recommend that the bill be abandoned altogether.
Repeated calls to the DTI revealed no news on whether the post had been filled, but a spokesperson insisted the post has not been scrapped, despite the appointment being two months overdue.
A DTI spokesperson explained that as the Digital Envoy is such a high ranking position, prime minister Tony Blair has to make the final decision and his "mind is elsewhere at the moment" due to the war in Kosovo. She could not say whether the post would be filled before the final details of the ecommerce bill are released later this month.
Peter Mandelson, former DTI minister, said last November that just having a strategy for ecommerce was not enough and that the Digital Envoy was essential for the government's vision of the UK as the hub of electronic trading to become a reality.
Mandelson's replacement, Stephen Byers, was handed the ecommerce flame but even as late as March during a speech at the CBI, he made no mention of a Digital Envoy.
Derek Wyatt, Labour MP and chairman of the Parliamentary All Party Internet Group, had already fueled speculation the previous week that the post had been scrapped, when he said that he was not sure it would still happen, despite many hundreds of applicants. A DTI spokesperson at the time said there had been 90.
Source: VNU Newswire
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