Telecommunications Infrastructure (Relief from Non-Domestic Rates) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:54 pm on 10th July 2017.

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Photo of Wendy Morton Wendy Morton Conservative, Aldridge-Brownhills 7:54 pm, 10th July 2017

As always, it is a pleasure to follow my constituency neighbour, my hon. Friend Amanda Milling. It is also a pleasure to take part in the debate. Before I get into the detail of my speech, I should like to thank the Minister for Digital, my right hon. Friend Matt Hancock, who is no longer in his place, for giving me a comprehensive response to what I thought was a simple, straightforward intervention earlier. I asked him about the five-year limit and the deadline for the business rate relief, which was an important point. If the Bill can incentivise companies to really get behind investment in our digital infrastructure, that will be a good thing. It will have far-reaching benefits.

The Bill made me think of a couple of things. My hon. Friend the Member for Cannock Chase described herself as a “technology dinosaur”, but I would describe myself as a technophobe. The challenges with the internet connection that we have faced here in Parliament in recent weeks have been frustrating, to say the least. All I will say is that it is very handy to have a staff member on your team who is a good bit younger than you are. I have found that they know everything about the internet, and they have been a huge help to me.

I am also reminded of the time, probably 20 to 25 years ago, when we first started to see the internet appear—I use the word “appear” because that is how it felt—and we had our first internet connection. It was a big thing to have the internet at home. I seem to recall that there was no such thing as wireless internet. There was a wire that led from downstairs to upstairs, and we had to plug it in and unplug it. It was impossible for more than one person at a time to be on a computer. How things have changed!

I am also reminded of the first mobile phone that we had. I could not fit it into my quite large handbag. It was almost the size of a brick, and I used to walk around with it. It had an aerial and a handset with a curly cable attached. Again, how things have progressed! Who would have imagined that we would be here this evening talking about 5G—