Rural Communities in Scotland: Broadband — [Mr George Howarth in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:40 am on 22nd November 2017.

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Photo of Liam Byrne Liam Byrne Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) (Digital Economy) 10:40 am, 22nd November 2017

It is a great pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Howarth; thank you for preserving a modicum of order this morning as tempers rose. I congratulate John Lamont on securing the debate. He is right that in the 21st century, broadband is not a luxury but an economic necessity. He eloquently argued that it is integral not simply to the way that we live, but the way that we want to work. His timing is well chosen, because of course later this afternoon the Chancellor will have to stand up in the Chamber and try to explain to us all why a Conservative Government, and previously a Conservative-led coalition, have presided over a slower recovery after the financial crash than that following the great Wall Street crash of 1929.

As we rally behind a better future, growing the digital economy is clearly one of our most important opportunities. There are about 1.6 million people working in the digital economy today, but on average they are paid about 40% more than the national average. If we want to raise productivity growth rates and give our country a pay rise, we have to accelerate the roll-out of the digital infrastructure. I am sure he will not tell us this, but I very much hope that the Minister has been massively successful with his right hon. Friend the Chancellor and that there will be plenty of good news about broadband this afternoon.