Telecommunications Infrastructure (Relief from Non-Domestic Rates) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:41 pm on 10th July 2017.

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Photo of Marcus Jones Marcus Jones Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Communities and Local Government) (Local Government) 9:41 pm, 10th July 2017

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Let me move on to contributions made by other right hon. and hon. Members. My right hon. Friend Mr Vaizey showed his significant knowledge in this area. He welcomed the Bill and, given that significant knowledge, it was good to see him confirm that he thought the Bill would help to incentivise the smaller providers and increase competition in the sector, a point reiterated by my hon. Friend Kit Malthouse.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Wantage also mentioned the impact the Bill would have on our mobile infrastructure and 5G, as well as the need to look at the planning system to ensure that we have the mobile infrastructure we need. I am sure he will be aware that provisions were introduced last November as part of the Digital Economy Act 2017 to speed up the planning process for telecom infrastructure.

Jonathan Edwards welcomed the framework for England and Wales. As he acknowledged, the Bill’s framework will allow the devolved Government to take up—or not, as the case may be—the measures. He was right to point out that funding will be provided for Wales through Barnett consequentials.

My hon. Friend Simon Hoare made an important point about the potential loss of income for local authorities during the Bill’s implementation. I can reassure him that if a network is on the local rating list, compensation for local government will be provided via a grant to cover the particular local authority’s share of the cost of providing the business rate relief.

My hon. Friend the Member for North West Hampshire welcomed the Bill, which I understand fulfils a wish he had during the passage of the 2017 Act. He seemed extremely pleased that the Government have taken up the suggestion to provide this business rate relief.

My hon. Friend Helen Whately discussed the Bill’s importance in the context of social inclusion and the tackling of loneliness. She referred to rural small businesses that would benefit from the delivery of fibre broadband to their communities.

My hon. Friend Wendy Morton recognised that the five-year rate relief period would provide a significant incentive to fibre broadband. Like my hon. Friend Huw Merriman, she made the perceptive comment that this type of fibre broadband is becoming as important a part of the nation’s infrastructure as our road and rail network.

My hon. Friend Matt Warman made an important contribution. He has campaigned tirelessly on this issue and talked about the benefit for the Government, with our investment being returned many times over because of the increased economic activity that will be created.

My hon. Friend Amanda Milling talked about the importance of having fibre connectivity on new housing estates, citing Chasewater Grange. She also mentioned the opportunity that the fibre roll-out could provide to new industrial developments, and did not forgo the opportunity to mention the Rugeley B power station site, which is extremely important to her and her constituents.

My hon. Friend the Member for North East Hampshire welcomed the Bill and mentioned how, in rural areas such as his, its provisions could well assist with tech jobs that hitherto may not have been deliverable in rural areas.