Did you know that Parliament has debated broadband issues a total of 45 times over the past 5 years? Yesterday MPs met in Westminster Hall, with Joan Ryan in the chair, to once more air their grievances around the lack of broadband provision in rural areas.
MPs highlighted how severe the problems were for businesses in their rural constituencies, and how the BT Openreach monopoly was making finding solutions to these impossible. In response, the Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy, Ed Vaizey, highlighted his pledge to create ‘gigabit Britain’ by such measures as: making it cheaper to lay fibre, building bigger masts and working with Ofcom on a digital communications review.
In other words, nothing’s going to happen anytime soon. To cheer you on a Friday, however, we’ve pasted in some of the best quotes from the debate.
MPs tell it like it is
“the treatment of farmers by the Rural Payments Agency—expecting them to monitor their cattle movements and supply all the information online—is hopeless.” – Helen Goodman (Bishop Auckland) (Lab)
“My hon. Friend asks how BT survives. Does he agree that it does so by having a virtual monopoly? There is no real competition out there, especially in rural areas, so it can treat its customers abysmally.” – Neil Parish (Tiverton and Honiton) (Con)
“If, as the impact assessment shows, something is worth £17 billion to the economy, surely it is a false economy for the Government not to ensure that it is rolled out properly”. – Clive Efford (Eltham) (Lab)
If Ed were a Russian minister, he’d do this bare-chested while riding a horse
“We all know that the Minister is a very nice man. He is being forced to intervene as if he were a Minister in a Soviet, centrally-planned economy, on a case-by-case basis.” – Helen Goodman (Bishop Auckland) (Lab)
FYI, we reckon the CEO of Openreach has a salary of at least 10 times Ed’s
“Having said that, I find it frustrating that I am sometimes doing the job of the chief executive or directors of Openreach. I find it frustrating that I have to broker a deal between Openreach and house builders to provide what should be provided in any common sense view—when building a brand-new housing development, surely that is the time to lay brand-new technology that people will expect over the next 20 years.” – Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy (Con)
Just one of the shocking stories about the consequences of poor broadband
The first big problem in my constituency was faced by an auctioneer called Addisons, which was located in Barnard Castle. Addisons had been there for decades and increasingly found that auctions needed to be conducted over the internet. It would get better prices if it could conduct auctions over the net, but the connection offered by BT was not fast enough for it to be able to do that, so the firm closed, with the loss of dozens of jobs.” – Helen Goodman (Bishop Auckland) (Lab)
People are getting tied and emotional
“This may not be a Sport Relief event, but it is a mass therapy session” – Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy (Con)
“The hon. Gentleman is the Minister. If he wants to dodge the arguments by posing as an Opposition Member, fine, but that is to run up the white flag and admit defeat.” – Clive Efford (Eltham) (Lab)
At the end of the day, it all comes down to this
“If rural businesses are forgotten, we could lose a significant portion of our important rural life as businesses seek to move to better-connected cities and towns. That would cost jobs and livelihoods, not to mention deplete our rural communities.” – Chris Davies (Brecon and Radnorshire) (Con)