Broadband Rollout: Devon and Somerset

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:26 pm on 2nd December 2020.

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Photo of Neil Parish Neil Parish Chair, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, Chair, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee 5:26 pm, 2nd December 2020

I thank my hon. Friend David Warburton for his contribution to the debate. I like the way he managed to get roads and rail into a broadband debate—excellent. As my constituency neighbour, my hon. Friend Simon Jupp, went through all his villages, he stole one of mine. Feniton belongs to me—will he take his troops away? He made a very good point about how we need to get everybody connected. I thank my hon. Friend Anthony Mangnall very much for his contribution. He was able to talk about gin distillers, farmers and fisherman all in the same breath—excellent. My hon. Friend Selaine Saxby said that she has less connection than me, but the Minister told me that I have the worst in Devon, so that should definitely cheer me up.

At the end of the day, this is very much about connecting our constituents. I made the point that it does not matter who does it or how we do it, but they must be connected. Over the years, I have been concerned about Openreach and BT and their monopolies, but they are training 5,000 engineers a year. They are the big players out there, so we have to make sure we use them with the outside-in programme and the voucher scheme. There has been a history of antagonism between Connecting Devon and Somerset and Openreach, and I do not want that to hold back the delivery of broadband. This is not only about our businesses; we talked about children’s education and the health service—most doctors’ surgeries are now being done online because of the pandemic. There is lots of serious stuff that we need to sort out.

I do not apologise for being very forthright because I think it was necessary, but I accept what the Minister said. We really need to do better. The last comment that I will make, Ms Fovargue, is that if you think this is bad, if I have to come back a second time it may be even worse.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That this House
has considered the rollout of broadband in Devon and Somerset.

Sitting adjourned.