Superfast Broadband — [Mark Pritchard in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:00 pm on 24th June 2015.

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Photo of John Woodcock John Woodcock Shadow Minister (Education) 3:00 pm, 24th June 2015

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Pritchard. I too congratulate Matt Warman on securing this debate.

I will be brief, as the main themes have been well aired already. I want to raise specifically with the Minister the issue of two areas in my constituency that are currently being appallingly served by BT, Askham and Kirkby-in-Furness. I have been deluged by email complaints from constituents who have just about managed to get internet access to send them to me in advance of the debate, because they knew I intended to speak today.

The situation in Askham concerns a particular cabinet. It is the sort of case that will be familiar to many hon. Members present—indeed, the hon. Member for Boston and Skegness gave a good account of the way in which BT seems to shift the goalposts. People in Askham were promised a cabinet. They were then given the excuse that the road around the cabinet site was eroded; if the Minister wants to come and look at the cabinet—I am sure that will be high up on his to-do list at the start of the new Parliament—he will see that that excuse is a nonsense. They were then given a second excuse, namely that there was no land on which the new cabinet could be sited that was not private. But anyone looking at the site would see that those excuses do not hold water. Hundreds of people in Askham are tearing their hair out.

The situation is similar in Kirkby. The service is going significantly backwards and BT has not given a date by which it will be fixed. I do not like having to name and shame a company for poor service, but I am afraid that is what we have to do in Parliament, given BT’s intransigence on this.