Clause 61 - Rent under tenancies conferring code rights: England and Wales

Part of Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:00 pm on 17 March 2022.

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Photo of Julia Lopez Julia Lopez Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office), Minister of State 2:00, 17 March 2022

That certainly is a fair point to make, and I apologise for not picking that up in the hon. Member’s comments.

A cap is likely to be even more detrimental to constituents in rural communities, who will benefit from the increased connectivity and reliability that we hope the Bill will bring.

As I have explained, agreements to which the code applies can currently be renewed in various ways, depending on the type of agreement and where in the UK it was entered into. The intention of clause 61, along with clause 62, is to create a clearer and more consistent legislative framework under which agreements are renewed. Central to that is ensuring that, no matter where in the UK an agreement is renewed, the financial terms are calculated in the same way. That will help to ensure that there is not a digital divide across the UK, with one country receiving additional investment at the expense of others because operating costs are cheaper.

The amendment suggests limiting any reduction in rent that may be imposed by the court when agreements are renewed under the 1954 Act. While that proposal is well intentioned, we do not believe that it should be allowed to proceed. It is vital that there is fairness throughout the UK. The Bill as drafted provides a clear framework, which will not only result in all payments being calculated in the same way, but in the ability to renew agreements quickly and cost-effectively. We think that will expand the digital network.