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The Government is to appoint a "digital ambassador" to lead the country's bid to become the e-commerce centre of the world. The ambassador will work with Government and industry to promote e-commerce within the UK and throughout the world. Peter Mandelson, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, announced the new position during the debate on the Queen's speech. The proposal was greeted with hoots of laughter from Conservative benches as the government pressed ahead with providing a legal framework for e-commerce on the Net. "The Digital Envoy will add a great deal of value to the work already underway," said Mr Mandelson announcing the new position. "The Envoy will ensure that UK business and consumers are able to take maximum advantage of the opportunities which are opening up," he said. The successful candidate will also be charged with promoting Britain abroad acting as a public figurehead for the Government on e-commerce, and promoting the UK as a centre for hi-tech investment. "This is an approach that works well in other countries, especially in the United States," said Mr Mandelson. "I want e-commerce to be the engine of growth in the UK that it already is in America," he said. The Government is expected to advertise the position within the next few weeks but a spokesman for the DTI said it was in no hurry to appoint someone although he understood the pressing need to "get moving". "We're after a "Digital Ambassador", someone of a high calibre who can promote e-commerce in the UK," said the spokesman. "But we're prepared to wait for the right candidate." Remuneration is likely to be in line with that paid to top civil servants, he said. Since the position was only announced yesterday it's too early to say who the front runners for the job will be but it appears Alan Sugar has already ruled himself out of contention. A spokesman for Mr Sugar said he already had his "hands full" with other matters. The Digital Envoy - the people's choice Who do you think should be the first Digital Envoy? Alan Sugar? Sir Clive Sinclair? One of the four remaining Spice Girls? E-mail your suggestions to Vote, Vote, Vote for Tim Richardson We'll keep you posted on The Register's front top candidates for the post. Remember, it's the people's vote that counts. ®

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