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Former civil servant Alex Allan has been appointed as the UK's first e-commerce envoy. His job will be "to champion e-commerce" in the UK and "spearhead a wake-up call to British business". He will be charged with encouraging business to embrace the Net "as a matter of urgency". Prime Minister Tony Blair made the announcement this lunchtime at a briefing in Cambridge. Allan was widely tipped as the man for the job and will take-up his role immediately. Before this appointment, Allan had been the High Commissioner to Australia since November 1997. Before that he was the personal private secretary (PPS) to former Prime Minister John Major. According to sources he has been interested in IT "for a long time" and worked as a computer consultant in Australia six years ago. He will work out of the Cabinet Office in Downing Street so that he is at the "heart of government". As well as promoting e-commerce, he will drive forward plans to develop electronic government in the UK although there is no news about how much cash he will have to turn Britain into a wired isle. The Register humbly suggests that one of Allan's first tasks should be to kick butt at the Central Office of Information (COI) and sack the Web monkeys who run their feeble excuse for a Web site. If the service runs at all it's a miracle. The rest of the time it is so slow it makes travelling around the M25 at rush hour seem like an F1 grand prix. ®

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