I welcome the Bill. The introduction of new legislation to address the issues raised by the advent of e-commerce is of great importance to all of us. The whole concept of trade and business is fundamentally altering and will never be the same again. It is of vital national importance that we stay to the forefront of technology and this new way of doing business. Ongoing capital investment to enable the best connectivity with high transmission capacity is fundamental in ensuring our premier position in the world market.
We have witnessed the changes in fortune due to the establishment of call centres. These have changed how and where people live. Increasingly, employers and employees will operate from home rather than travelling to and from a set location. This change will have immeasurable effect on spatial planning, how cities develop and the development of modes of transportation. The available market by 2001 will be about 300 million people. It is of real importance that the validity of e-commerce transactions is taken as secure and contracts entered into are beyond question legally.
The world is facing the biggest single revolution as a result of the capacity to share information at the push of a button. From the North Pole to the South Pole, east or west, all who have a thirst for knowledge are empowered. The concept of the human genome breakthrough becoming immediately available free on the Internet is extraordinary. That type of development will enhance e-commerce and turn more minds towards challenging its potential. As in all matters, some of those who explore the system will not wish to stay within the bounds of honest trade. It is necessary to implement this legislation to comfort the rest of us that remedies are at hand to check the ambition of the ruthless.
We must foster a proactive community who seek out the limits of legal application on the web and Internet. We, the last generation of the paper society, must educate the generations to come and use this new gift in the most productive way for the benefit of all society. Reference has been made to the possibility of technological advances in the development of democracy because of technology, with each citizen empowered to take part in decision making through the Internet. That opportunity for good is also an opportunity for great evil. We must ensure that those who will be the instant decision makers are fully educated on their responsibility and are comprehensively briefed on all aspects of the topic before they press the empowered button. A world where one turns on one's computer and demands an immediate answer to a question of national or international importance must be resisted.
The United Nations has drawn up guidelines on international trade law while the European Union tackles the question of electronic signatures. This Bill relies on both as its bedrock and rightly so. Our legislation must be compatible with increasing globalisation while retaining our national character. We must move forward with an air of confidence that e-commerce will have the capacity to liberate all countries of the world, bringing wealth and health to all by opening society.