Telecommunications Infrastructure (Relief from Non-Domestic Rates) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:07 pm on 10th July 2017.

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Photo of Helen Whately Helen Whately Conservative, Faversham and Mid Kent 7:07 pm, 10th July 2017

My hon. Friend has made an important point about the Bill’s focus on the infrastructure along routes such as rail lines and motorways, where it will be of particular benefit. My constituency, like hers, contains commuters who would like to be able to do more work on the train, and the Bill will make that possible.

Full-fibre broadband should bring an end to a problem about which I often hear from BT engineers: the challenge of the “last mile”, the old copper wires that are so dated, some of them more than 100 years old. Although that technology has served us very well for many years, it is probably time to move on, so that people can get proper high-speed broadband, especially those who live further away from the cabinet and the traditional infrastructure.

It is right for the Government to support the development of new infrastructure by providing incentives in the form of appropriate conditions for substantial private investment in that infrastructure, which will multiply by many times the investment that they are making with the use of taxpayer funds. The combination of the £400 million digital infrastructure fund and the £60 million business rates relief for which the Bill provides should be wearable for the Government, while also resulting in much more investment in the country’s digital infrastructure, which we badly need.

I want to ensure that we reach out to and communicate with younger voters. I say to them, “You may not be watching the Parliament channel on your internet connection, but take note of what is being said.” This is an example of the Government’s looking ahead to the sort of economy that we need for the future: looking towards investing in the infrastructure that we need, so that we will be able to compete globally, have a modern economy, have innovation and have the kind of jobs and the kind of economy that will give younger workers opportunities for decades to come, and give us the economic growth that we need in order to fund a high standard of living and the public services about which we care so much.