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Broadband (Highlands)

Volume 497: debated on Wednesday 14 October 2009

7. What recent discussions he has had with Scottish Executive Ministers on the provision of next-generation broadband in the Highlands. (292284)

I am grateful to the Minister for that answer. She will know from the recent Highlands and Islands Enterprise report that access to broadband technology in the highlands lags far behind that in the rest of the country. If we were to get the next generation of broadband in the highlands, that would make more difference to our area than to almost anywhere else in the country. Will the Minister use the power of her office and her Department to support local moves to ensure that the highlands, which the “Digital Britain” report relegated to the final third when it came to access to next-generation broadband, can be first in line instead?

I very much hope that the hon. Gentleman will fully support the proposal contained in the “Digital Britain” White Paper to establish a tax levy of 50p per month on fixed landlines so that we can create next-generation funding for exactly that one-third of the network that we believe requires additional investment and incentive. We want to ensure that there is no digital divide anywhere in the UK.