Patricia Hewitt, e-commerce minister, announced that the Government intends passing new broadcasting and communications legislation early in the next Parliament.

Hewitt said that DTI ministers and media secretary, Chris Smith, had discussed the future regulatory handling of convergence. Technological advances have brought unrelated technologies – such as TV, telecoms and the Internet - much closer together. Convergence is the generally accepted name for this trend. Detailed legislation has not been worked out, but is expected to be announced soon.

Hewitt suggested that Government wants to make a real difference to the UK's e-commerce landscape. In the UK, larger companies compare positively with their international competition. However, smaller UK businesses are bottom of the league of G7 economies. Ms Hewitt explained that the focus is on small businesses, in the hope that 1 million firms trade on-line by 2002.

The minister expressed dissatisfaction at the under-development of electronic working in government and Parliament. Hewitt has set up an on-line network of e-ministers in key departments, to tackle this problem.

The announcement was made during an interview carried on a Web site run by rgmr, an independent consultancy specializing in media and government relations. The whole text can be found on the company Web site.