It is a pleasure to follow Thangam Debbonaire.
This Bill deals with an important issue for very many of my constituents, thousands of whom will be affected by it. It will be welcome news to all those who have written to us about rural broadband. As a large and rural area, North Cornwall faces the typical challenges that other rural parts of Britain face when trying to modernise and to embrace new technologies and infrastructures. North Cornwall fortunately benefits from a county-wide roll out of superfast broadband, which has reached about 95% of households. That has definitely helped many people across Cornwall to be better connected with friends and family, and services and businesses. It is no secret that Cornwall has lagged behind in terms of economic growth and development. The provision of superfast broadband will undoubtedly address that important issue and improve the situation, particularly in supporting growth for small and medium-sized businesses and local enterprises.
Many people, however, are not so lucky. Scores of people across North Cornwall’s countryside, moorland and remote coastal areas not only lack access to superfast broadband, but lack access to a basic and reliable broadband service. For example, numerous farmers have written to my constituency office to complain about having to submit their basic payments and not being able to access broadband in order to do so. Numerous small rural businesses that need to submit VAT returns and advertise their services through attractive internet websites have also reported poor internet speeds. Families in small villages who want to shop or speak to loved ones all over the world all too often cannot get access to these services.