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

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Before entering this place, I worked in the optical industry, and our business relied on the internet day in, day out for processing orders and for sending stock back to Europe. The minute the internet went down we could do nothing at all, which shows how crucial connectivity is.

The Bill is vital, because under current broadband, superfast broadband and mobile coverage we still get some so-called notspots. We have rightly heard many contributions from hon. Members representing rural constituencies. My constituency does not fall into that category, but I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Cannock Chase that rural constituencies are not the only ones that are affected. We have notspots in my constituency, and I even find that I have to move around in my own home from time to time to get a mobile connection. Were it not for the wi-fi connection, I would struggle on many a day. I hope that the days of having to lean out of the kitchen window or move to a certain spot in the living room to get some mobile signal will soon be a thing of the past.

We have heard a lot about businesses and individuals tonight, but this Bill is not just about them. I am thinking of my constituency’s many voluntary organisations and charities, many of which provide lifelines to local residents. They too rely on having a good internet connection. Through their webpages, they allow people to get information 24 hours a day. Through the internet, we are able to reach much further than we could in the past.

I want to follow up on something said by some other hon. Members about demographics and age. Access to the internet has the potential to cut across all parts of society. If an older person has good internet access, they can keep in touch with their family through Facebook or FaceTime—things that we did not have a few years ago. If someone has grandchildren living on the other side of the country, or even on the other side of town, and wants to connect with them on a more frequent basis much more cheaply than by using the telephone, that can be facilitated through a good internet connection.

When I go into a school, as all hon. Members do, and have a debate either with primary school children or, more often than not, older secondary school children, the very valid question, “What do the Government do for us as young people?” often comes up. Sitting here today has made me realise that this Bill is an example of something that the Government are doing that will help young people. The younger generation are probably more tech and phone-savvy than all of us here put together—I can certainly speak for myself on that.