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School Funding: North-east of England — [Mr Clive Betts in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:46 am on 26th April 2017.

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Photo of Anne-Marie Trevelyan Anne-Marie Trevelyan Conservative, Berwick-upon-Tweed 9:46 am, 26th April 2017

As the hon. Lady knows, I support the USO and campaigned very hard to ensure that we got it into the Digital Economy Bill. I speak as someone for whom 1 megabit is still a very good day in my house. It is still a challenge for many of my constituents whose children need to do their homework online, but we are getting there. We have kicked the system into a more proactive premise, but I agree that getting access across the board is vital. It will be no good for my constituents to see Newcastle with superfast broadband at 100 megabit or 1 gigabit, because we still cannot download a basic file to do homework. We need to ensure that the universal service obligation spreads across the nation to every home.

The hon. Member for Washington and Sunderland West raised the issue of the apprenticeship levy, which for small schools in Northumberland is proving to be problematic because councils have been given the freedom to pass the levy fee on. It is an issue for a small school that suddenly got a bill for £10,000 a few weeks ago and will not take up the opportunity of an apprenticeship, and I very much hope the Minister looks at it in more detail.