Telecommunications Infrastructure (Relief from Non-Domestic Rates) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:35 pm on 10th July 2017.

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Photo of Matthew Hancock Matthew Hancock The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport 5:35 pm, 10th July 2017

First, there is no doubt that the five-year business rates holiday shows that we are reducing the cost of getting fibre into the ground. Secondly, it is time limited, so my message to alternative providers, as well as the big players, is to get on with it and make use of the relief while it is available. Thirdly, it gives us time for the business rates review and the VOA to look at the complexities over a reasonable period and come forward with a long-term, sustainable scheme. Sixthly—fourthly? I cannot remember which point I was up to, but I am sure that Hansard will make this bit sound really eloquent. I have completely lost my train of thought!

The final thing I was going to say is that the five-year business rates holiday will also give us the opportunity to decide, towards its end, whether five years has been long enough and whether we want to extend it. The fact that it is a five-year period demonstrates that providers should get on with it. I assure my hon. Friend Wendy Morton that it will be no shorter than five years, and I am grateful for her intervention because it allowed me to get completely confused with my own points.

In total, our efforts are part of measures worth £1.1 billion to support the market-led roll-out of fibre broadband and ensure that we are at the front of the 5G queue. There is still a lot more work to be done, and we will consult shortly on the technical details of implementation. The relief will reduce the costs of deployment, thereby incentivising the market to deliver where it otherwise would not have. I hope that, in the spirit of cross-party collaboration, the Bill will get the support of Government and Opposition Members, as it will benefit people right across the United Kingdom. We want to see a country in which people are better connected and everyone can get online and reach their full potential, and to make sure that nobody is left behind. The Bill provides a step on that journey, and I commend it to the House.