Superfast Broadband — [Mark Pritchard in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:37 pm on 24th June 2015.

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Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport 3:37 pm, 24th June 2015

Fortunately, Mr Pritchard, you cannot call a Division in this Chamber, so we cannot put that to the test.

It is a great delight to take part in this debate, and it is also a great delight to see the Chamber so full, which is unusual. Matt Warman has chosen the right subject, on which I congratulate him. I look forward to hearing a great deal more from him. I hope he will be a little less opaque about BT and Openreach in future. He is no longer a journalist, and he is allowed to say what he thinks, even if Whips are listening in. An awful lot of Members now have significant concerns and will be carefully watching Ofcom’s inquiry into the roll-out and the relationship between BT and Openreach. We want to ensure fair and open competition, but we do not want to dismantle a company for the sake of some kind of prejudice.

The hon. Gentleman referred to this being the most important infrastructure roll-out in his lifetime. I hope he will have a long and fruitful life, and who knows what the future may bring? In my constituency, the roll-out of mobile has been complicated and difficult. I know, because when I wrote a letter demanding that Tony Blair stand down as Prime Minister, fortunately I had no mobile coverage in my house, so no journalists were able to get me for at least four days.

The point has been well made by many hon. Members that peripheral economies come in many different shapes and sizes. All too often, as my hon. Friend Albert Owen has said, the infrastructure problems with broadband also relate to physical access, roads, buses, transport and everything else. [Interruption.] I cannot hear what Antoinette Sandbach is saying.