Broadband in Wales — [Steve McCabe in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:40 pm on 6th July 2016.

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Photo of Ed Vaizey Ed Vaizey Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Business, Innovation and Skills), Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Culture Media and Sport) 3:40 pm, 6th July 2016

No. I encourage them to watch it online. They can watch it online, on their iPads or on ITV Player.

Let me turn to the subject in hand. I have been in this job for six years and it may feel like wading through treacle, but when I hear someone as distinguished as the hon. Member for Ceredigion say those four words, “vast improvement in provision”, it makes those six years of hard labour worth it, because we have made a difference. I will come to some serious points, but I want to say that we have achieved a great deal and I will explain where we are.

I have always made the point that we had targets we wanted to achieve. We never said 100% of people would get superfast broadband under our programme. We said 90% would get it by the end of 2015 and we achieved that with 4 million additional homes and businesses, which will be 5 million by the time the programme effectively ends at the end of 2017. We have already completed 36 of the 44 phase 1 projects and we are well into phase 2, and on track to get to 95% by the end of 2017.

People seem to forget the baseline we started from when the programme was on the way. In Wales, fewer than one in three homes had access to superfast broadband in 2011, yet by the end of phase 2, which finishes this time next year, 96.7% will have been reached. This project alone will have provided access to superfast broadband for almost 750,000 homes in Wales. Half of all homes will have broadband because of this project. The figure is already almost 600,000 homes. The audited figure is 582,300, so we have probably passed 600,000 because we are always three months behind in auditing the figures.

It is worth remembering that in the constituency of the hon. Member for Ceredigion, for example, no superfast broadband was provided commercially—he reminded the House that I had made that point previously. Even though his figures are below the national figures and therefore look poor, it is telling that 55% of homes—20,000—in his constituency that now have access to superfast broadband have it because of this programme. Another 10,000 will be added by the middle of next year, with 85% superfast coverage in 30,000 premises that would not have been covered. Coverage in constituencies of Members across the House ranges from a lowly 79% in that of my hon. Friend Chris Davies—luckily he has left the Chamber, so I can mention that figure publicly—up to around 92% in Ynys Môn.