Broadband in Wales — [Steve McCabe in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:30 pm on 6th July 2016.

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Photo of Mark Williams Mark Williams Liberal Democrat, Ceredigion 2:30 pm, 6th July 2016

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising that. That is very true: hot off his meeting with BT, he brings useful information to the Chamber. I suggest that the point about collaboration between the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Assembly Government in Wales is important—all the more so as we proceed with the Digital Economy Bill. I have not yet looked in great detail at the Bill, which was introduced yesterday, but I wanted to ask the Minister about the relationship in meeting targets between setting them in London and delivery on the ground in Cardiff, which is really important.

I will conclude now. Thank you, Mr McCabe, for the opportunity to raise this important issue. I will not lambast DCMS for inaction because that is simply not the case. Significant progress has been made and the Government’s intention—[Interruption.] I detect that Albert Owen may usefully put on his boxing gloves in a moment or two. Where I will voice my deep concern, as befits the Member of Parliament for Ceredigion, is about the fact that many of my constituents are not realising the entitlements they are promised.

The National Farmers Union has spoken clearly—it also produced an excellent report, “NFU Spotlight on Farm Broadband & Mobile Networks”, which I commend—and campaigned energetically for the rights not just of its farmers but of the broader community. Those considerations need to be taken on board. Many constituents in rural areas across the country are feeling let down and they expect a response from the Assembly Government and from the UK Government as well.

The Minister may be able to help us with this final, slightly more topical, point: the funding we have received from the European Union. Following the referendum decision to leave the European Union, I hope the Minister can tell us what impact it will have on Government schemes to provide broadband to rural parts of Wales. Since £90 million of the funding for the Superfast Cymru contract came from the European regional development fund, there is concern that areas such as mine in Wales will suffer unless funding is found from elsewhere. Has he considered that? Has he looked into that? Will he confirm that Wales will not lose out? Because the need is very much there.