Broadband in Wales — [Steve McCabe in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:53 pm on 6th July 2016.

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Photo of Albert Owen Albert Owen Labour, Ynys Môn 2:53 pm, 6th July 2016

It is always a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr McCabe. I congratulate Mr Williams on securing the debate, and I once again welcome again the Minister, who has become an expert on rural Wales over the years from the broadband debates he has attended. I am sure that as all Members are doing, he will please the House by wishing the Welsh football team all the very best today. They are not just carrying the red dragon for Wales but carrying the flag for the whole of the British Isles.

I will not give the Minister a hard time, because he has moved towards many things that, when we used to argue about them, he said could never happen. I will not give a spin on that this time; instead, I will start by giving the Welsh dimension, which is what we are talking about. We had a timely meeting with BT today at which we were updated on many of its schemes. I will come on to how that links into the universal service obligation, because it is important that the gaps are plugged properly and that there is a co-ordinated plan. Although the Bill was published only yesterday, I will ask the Minister some questions about how the roll-out will be carried out.

In my north-west Wales constituency, 73% of properties have been connected through a scheme that, as the hon. Member for Ceredigion said, was funded by the Welsh Government, the United Kingdom Government and the European Union. As someone who believed, and still believes, in that partnership and has argued that the interests of Wales will be best served as part of both the United Kingdom and the European Union—[Interruption.] I see the Scottish National party representative nodding his head.