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Gov't e-commerce policy a shambles

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Opinion British Prime Minister Tony Blair has the best Web site of all the political leaders in the European Union, it's been revealed. He can now wear his anorak with pride after his site was lauded by a bunch of academic computer experts at two universities in Holland. Still, just as you shouldn't judge a book by its cover -- or a Web site by its flashy gifs -- neither should Blair be hailed as some kind of Web hero. Since coming to power in May 1997 Blair has had no fewer than four people in charge of e-commerce. Peter Mandelson and Barbara Roche shared the responsibility until Mandy left the Government under a financial cloud. That nice Michael Wills had the job afterwards but now he's been booted off to another department following the Government reshuffle that never was. Enter Miss Patricia Hewitt -- MP for Leicester West and a former director of research at Andersen Consulting -- for she is now taking up the job although how long she'll last is anyone's guess. A spokeswoman for the Government said that the rapid turnover of ministerial staff was not restricted to the Department of Trade and Industry. Apparently it's commonplace. This, it seems, is how Government works. All those companies and pressure groups that spent time and effort influencing the decision-makers will now have to start schmoozing all over again. And all those ministers who've gained a little knowledge now have to gen up on something else instead. What a waste. A bit like the Government's indecision over the appointment of the e-commerce envoy to represent the country's best interests in the wired world. Apparently, the decision was left with the 10 Downing Street-- Tony Blair, to be specific -- in March but not a word has been said since. You don't think Tony has been so busy tweaking his Web site and staying up late at nights to surf the Web that he's forgotten to do anything about the envoy? Nah, me neither... ®

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