Blair outlines plans to push UK online

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has announced the locations of the first batch of 6,000 planned Internet learning centres as part of a campaign to get the country online.

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has announced the locations of the first batch of 6,000 planned Internet learning centres as part of a campaign to get the country online.

The campaign's goal is "to meet the three stretching targets we have set: for Britain to be the best place in the world for e-commerce, with universal access to the Internet and all Government services on the Net. In short, the UK online campaign aims to get business, people and government online," Blair says, according to an official statement.

As part of the campaign, the government will launch the first 600 of the planned 6,000 Internet learning centres -- including public libraries -- that are designed to train those living in poor communities on how to use the Internet, according to the statement.

A new training programme, "learndirect," will teach online courses about using the Internet and aims to offer a million such courses a year by 2002.

The government also plans to invest 10 million pounds ($US14.15 million) this year in getting UK businesses online, and has pledged an additional 15 million pounds over the next two years to "help companies exploit new technologies by providing help, with expert advice available face to face, online or by telephone," according to the statement.

A report on electronic government prepared by the Performance and Innovation Unit was confirmed as the blueprint for meeting the third goal of the campaign, getting the government online by 2005, as Blair had already announced earlier in the year.

The government has earmarked 1 billion pounds for putting government services online -- what it calls "electronic service delivery" -- over the next three years, the statement says.

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