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I wish to make some progress, but I will be happy to give way in a while.
What the Prime Minister promised was full fibre by 2025. Then he downgraded that pledge to universal “gigabit-capable” broadband, and then, in the Queen’s Speech, the pledge was watered down further to “accelerating the roll-out” of gigabit-capable broadband. I am pleased that, in this Bill, the Government appear to be acknowledging the limitations of a market free-for-all and now propose a number of minor measures to ease infrastructure build-out by giving operators more power to access apartment blocks when requested by tenants.
“taking the first hammer blow to the barriers preventing the deployment of gigabit connectivity.”—[Official Report,
Vol. 670, c. 358.]
This is not a hammer; it is not even a toy hammer. It is like one of those sponge hammers that may make you feel better, but actually does nothing at all. This Bill does not go far enough in solving the problems brought about by a wasted decade in which the Tories allowed the re-monopolisation of broadband infrastructure and failed to take advantage of the world-leading position left by the last Labour Government. If the Government genuinely believe in the levelling up of the UK’s broadband, the Prime Minister has to do far, far more than this.