Digital Economy Bill [ Lords]

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 5:53 pm on 6th April 2010.

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Photo of Derek Wyatt Derek Wyatt Labour, Sittingbourne and Sheppey 5:53 pm, 6th April 2010

It is a pleasure to follow my great friend, Mr. Foster. Judging by what Opposition Front-Benchers said, I thought for one moment that he was going to be the MP for Bath and Munster, but perhaps not.

I pay great thanks to the Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, my right hon. Friend Mr. Timms, who is on the Treasury Bench before me. During the past 13 years, he has been most civil and courteous about all IT matters on which I have gone to see him, and he even had time last week at 9 o'clock to fit me in and go through the Bill, so I thank him.

I thank also Lord Carter, now Lord Carter of Paris-not just in another place but in another country-for having had the vision to write the original White Paper. However, I sense that the Bill has not captured all of its contents, and I agree with everyone working in the digital UK marketplace: the Bill ought to have had a Committee stage and a Third Reading. Indeed, I am mystified as to why it did not start its parliamentary journey in this House, but we are where we are, as we often say.

Let me note four things that concern me most about the overall vision. I cannot see how the Bill takes on India or China; I simply cannot see a single provision that does so. They are not going to settle for 2 megabytes; they are going to settle for 100-and much, much more. If one talks to Tata and Reliance in India, one finds that the major cities in India aim to be far more ambitious. The situation is much easier in China: they can insist on such development, and they will deliver it, as they are doing in Shanghai, Guangdong province, parts of Hong Kong and in Beijing. If our creative industry is so important to us over the next 10 years, we should be far more ambitious. If we were having this debate in 2020 and looking back, we would say that it was pretty poor just to settle for as little as 2 megabytes.

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