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Telecommunications: Rural Areas

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th July 2018.

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Photo of Jamie Stone Jamie Stone Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Armed Forces) 12:00 am, 11th July 2018

What discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on improving telecommunications in rural Scotland.

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Secretary of State for Scotland

May I first welcome my right hon. and learned Friend Jeremy Wright to his role as Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and thank his predecessor for his energy and the interest that he showed in Scotland? I have regular discussions with Cabinet colleagues regarding a wide range of issues relating to Scotland and look forward to working closely with the new Secretary of State on this issue.

Photo of Jamie Stone Jamie Stone Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Armed Forces)

The Secretary of State will be aware that mobile reception in my constituency is variable, to say the very least. The Home Office has given a company called EE a large amount of money to install infrastructure. Will the Secretary of State help other providers to access this infrastructure?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Secretary of State for Scotland

The hon. Gentleman raises an important issue for rural Scotland; it is also very important in my own Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale constituency. I will give him that undertaking.

Photo of Kirstene Hair Kirstene Hair Conservative, Angus

Last month, the then Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport warned that Scotland was due to miss its target of connecting every business and home in Scotland with superfast broadband. Does the Secretary of State for Scotland agree that the SNP is letting down rural areas such as my constituency of Angus?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Secretary of State for Scotland

My hon. Friend has been a powerful advocate for improved broadband in rural Scotland. Indeed, she is correct that the Scottish Government have let Scotland down on this issue.

Photo of Pete Wishart Pete Wishart Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Constitution), Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons, Chair, Scottish Affairs Committee

According to thinkbroadband, 93.4% of premises in Scotland now have access to superfast broadband, which compares with 95% in the UK. This has been done with some of the most challenging geography in the whole of Europe, with some £580 million of Scottish Government money being put into the last 5%. Will the Secretary of State now congratulate the Scottish Government on achieving this and thank them for investing in a reserved area, which is his responsibility?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Secretary of State for Scotland

Rather than reading out Scottish Government press releases, the hon. Gentleman should be standing up for his constituents and people across rural Scotland who get a poor deal on broadband, which is primarily due to the ineffectiveness of the Scottish Government.