Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education



Front Page

World

UK

UK Politics

Business

Sci/Tech

Health

Education

Sport

Entertainment

Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Archive
Feedback
Low Graphics
Help

Monday, August 9, 1999 Published at 16:23 GMT 17:23 UK


Business: The Economy

UK 'lacks urgency' over e-commerce

The select committee's report looks at wider issues of e-commerce

By Internet Correspondent Chris Nuttall

The UK government has been criticised by a committee of MPs for a "yawning gap between ambition and achievement" in the promotion of electronic commerce.


Martin O'Neill on the e-envoy and e-commerce
The Trade and Industry Select Committee says in a report that it is concerned at the lack of urgency in bringing forward an Electronic Commerce Bill and appointing an Internet czar or e-envoy as promised.

The chairman of the committee, Martin O'Neill, told a news conference on Monday that there was frustration both inside and outside government that an e-envoy had not been appointed.

Whoever it turned out to be, they should be equipped with hobnailed boots to see that people in government were not just sitting around, he said.

BT monopoly questioned

The committee is also urging the telecommunications regulator, Oftel, to adopt a more proactive role in enabling higher bandwidth services and free local-call access to the Internet for consumers.

"It's started rather late in addressing this issue of opening up the Internet to small businesses and the home user," chided Mr O'Neill.

"The BT monopoly should be subject to closer scrutiny. If technology enables the break-up of the monopoly and consumers can benefit from that, we feel there ought to be an opening up of the loop." This would allow other companies to offer services over the last mile of copper wire to homes and businesses.

E-commerce statistics needed

The committee's report on electronic commerce is a follow-up to one produced in May dealing with the proposed Bill and issues of electronic authentication and encryption.

The new report deals with wider issues and makes a number of other recommendations:

  • The Government Statistical Service should consider developing ways of compiling more accurate information on e-commerce.

  • Policy makers should not get carried away by the hype and exaggeration that has sometimes characterised the debate on the future of Online trade.

  • Social issues have perhaps been eclipsed by the concerns of industry and law enforcement. The government should not lose sight of the parts of society which may in some way be damaged by e-commerce.

  • Electronic government is not working. "The current plague of costly, late and untested electronic government projects must be tackled before the situation worsens," says the report.

"The government has invested a great deal of political capital in setting an optimistic agenda for this increasingly important area of economic activity," said Mr O'Neill.

"The Committee intends to monitor the still as yet yawning gap between ambition and achievement and will be returning to the subject of e-commerce in the forthcoming session."

The government has published its draft Electronic Commerce Bill since the report was approved by committee members in mid-July. Oftel last month proposed the ending of BT's monopoly over the local loop by July 2001. The e-envoy post was advertised last year but a high-calibre candidate has yet to be found.



Advanced options | Search tips




Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©


The Economy Contents


Relevant Stories

04 Aug 99 | The Economy
The e-commerce revolution

23 Jul 99 | Sci/Tech
UK e-commerce bill unveiled

22 Jul 99 | Sci/Tech
E-hallmark promised for Web trade

06 Jul 99 | The Company File
BT ordered to open up network to rivals

10 Aug 99 | Sci/Tech
E-commerce blueprint under fire





Internet Links


Trade and Industry Committee report


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.




In this section

Inquiry into energy provider loyalty

Brown considers IMF job

Chinese imports boost US trade gap

No longer Liffe as we know it

The growing threat of internet fraud

House passes US budget

Online share dealing triples

Rate fears as sales soar

Brown's bulging war-chest

Oil reaches nine-year high

UK unemployment falls again

Trade talks deadlocked

US inflation still subdued

Insolvent firms to get breathing space

Bank considered bigger rate rise

UK pay rising 'too fast'

Utilities face tough regulation

CBI's new chief named

US stocks hit highs after rate rise

US Fed raises rates

UK inflation creeps up

Row over the national shopping basket

Military airspace to be cut

TUC warns against following US

World growth accelerates

Union merger put in doubt

Japan's tentative economic recovery

EU fraud costs millions

CBI choice 'could wreck industrial relations'

WTO hails China deal

US business eyes Chinese market

Red tape task force

Websites and widgets

Guru predicts web surge

Malaysia's economy: The Sinatra Principle

Shell secures Iranian oil deal

Irish boom draws the Welsh

China deal to boost economy

US dream scenario continues

Japan's billion dollar spending spree