Digital Economy Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:35 pm on 13th September 2016.

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Photo of Anne-Marie Trevelyan Anne-Marie Trevelyan Conservative, Berwick-upon-Tweed 3:35 pm, 13th September 2016

It is an honour and a pleasure to speak in this debate. Broadband connectivity is possibly the most important issue at every level for my constituents in north Northumberland. I thank the former Minister, my right hon. Friend Mr Vaizey—he is not now in the Chamber—who listened endlessly to requests from me and my constituents for a universal service obligation to ensure that those who live in our most rural communities have access to decent broadband.

The concern brought to me, which I have raised, is how robust the right to request, under a universal service obligation, broadband with a speed of 10 megabits per second will be, given the reality of access to the system. The first point I ask the Minister to consider—it has been raised by colleagues—is that, by the time the Bill is enacted and we can move forward, 10 megabits per second will be well below a realistic level. How might we benchmark that number today, so that we will have a number to which we can relate in two or five years’ time?