I beg to move,
That this House
has considered superfast broadband roll-out.
Members who had the pleasure of being at Prime Minister’s questions earlier today will no doubt think that we have already considered superfast broadband roll-out, because it was by far the most popular subject for Members to ask the Prime Minister questions about.
What we are discussing today is by far the most important infrastructure programme that we will consider in our lifetime. There has been much discussion of new train lines. In fact, during the past five years the progress we have made on superfast broadband roll-out has been immense, and I will begin by covering some of the progress that we have made in the last few years.
I intentionally asked for this House to consider superfast broadband roll-out rather than simply the rural broadband programme, because we must acknowledge that there are serious problems in cities as well as in rural areas. Geographically, the rural broadband programme remains an enormous task, because it covers something like 40% of the area of the country, but I ask that we also consider today the huge numbers of people in cities who often have very slow connections.
Back in 2010, shortly after the formation of the coalition Government, the then Culture Secretary announced that we would have the best broadband in Europe by 2015. As a journalist covering that, I remember being convinced that if we were to have that, we would have it only by fiddling the figures. In fact, it turns out that, measured against comparable nations such as Germany and France, Britain has indeed made incredible progress. More to the point, we have by far the most competitive marketplace in broadband, so our constituents pay a good price for the service that they get receive.