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 You are in: Special Report: 1998: 11/98: Queen Speech  
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Queen Speech Tuesday, 24 November, 1998, 19:21 GMT
Blair hails Internet revolution
The Queen's Speech
The government is preparing Britain for "the new industrial revolution" brought about by the Internet, the prime minister has told MPs.

The Net is the fastest-spreading technology ever and is transforming industries, he said. And electronic commerce would grow likewise.

Blair
Electronic commerce is growing rapidly, says Tony Blair
In the prime minister's address to the Commons for the new session of parliament, Tony Blair said the Net was setting the pace and growing exponentially - with use doubling every 100 days.

The revolution would take two decades to complete, not two centuries, he said.

It is commonplace to buy airline tickets, insurance and even household goods electronically, Mr Blair said.

Sales will soar

"Last year, just three companies generated 2bn in sales from the internet, but within five years the prediction is that electronic commerce could be worth over 300bn. It is literally transforming industries.

"It may be commonplace to discuss this revolution but it is not yet common for governments to have a strategy for it." He said Britain did now have such a plan.

Mr Blair said the government would take three steps to make the UK the leading nation for e-commerce:

  • introducing a bill in parliament to boost the new market in the UK

  • investing in skills: every school will be linked to the Internet, every teacher would be trained in it and every school-leaver should be information technology-literate, said Mr Blair.

  • investing in creativity, through 1.4bn in scientific research and investment in arts funding

Mr Blair said: "Britain is well-placed. English is the language of choice of nearly two-thirds of those on the Internet."

More strategies for a knowledge-driven economy would come in the competitiveness white paper, he said.

That economy should be based on competition, competence and creativity - the "three Cs of a knowledge economy", he said.

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