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Clause 7 - Electronic communications code: the need to promote growth

Part of Growth and Infrastructure Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:00 pm on 29th November 2012.

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Photo of Therese Coffey Therese Coffey Conservative, Suffolk Coastal 4:00 pm, 29th November 2012

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Davies. I know that it is unusual for the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister to speak, which is why I have swapped duties with my hon. Friend the Member for Salisbury, so that I can talk about the issue. In my time on the Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport, one of the key things we campaigned for was to get broadband rolled out across the entire country for residents, whether in our inner cities, in areas of outstanding natural beauty, in national parks, and everything else in between.

I agree with the clause, and it certainly should not be limited to the Government programme. The market is providing a substantial amount of the broadband that is needed. Examples were raised earlier about where things were being held up. I will point to a town in my own constituency, where BT applied last October for permission to get a cabinet somewhere, with registration starting on 5 January. After quite a lot of disagreements, the application was withdrawn in April. Permission was reapplied for in May, and eventually BT received permission on 18 July, some nine months after first trying to get planning permission. It is not just in AONBs where there are problems with trying to get broadband cabinets fitted. As we know, the evidence from Mrs Learmonth suggested that BT had had similar problems with more than 2,000 cabinets.

I welcome the earlier statements made from the Opposition Front Bench. Just last month, I noticed that on his website, the hon. Member for Edinburgh South welcomed the roll-out of superfast broadband. He said:

“It is great to see Edinburgh at the forefront of the new Digital age as BT roll out the fibre broadband network”.

As I have already indicated, sometimes there are problems with rolling out that network. I am sure that he does not want to stand in the way of his own residents in Edinburgh enjoying superfast broadband as quickly as possible.