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Volume 527: debated on Thursday 28 April 2011

11. What discussions he has had with the BBC Trust on the contribution of the BBC to the provision of high speed broadband. (52637)

Following discussions at official level with the BBC and BBC Trust, the BBC agreement is being amended to reflect its new funding obligations arising from the television licence fee settlement, including the obligations related to support for broadband roll-out. The draft text of the amended agreement is currently with my Secretary of State for approval.

May I take this opportunity to congratulate all the staff who have worked so hard to help to ensure that tomorrow will be a great day for the royal family, especially the royal couple, as well as a great boost to UK tourism? Does the Minister agree that, with only 1% of households currently having high-speed broadband, if we are to achieve our target of being the best in Europe by 2015, we have to drive up demand? Does it therefore make sense for the BBC to use some of its ring-fenced licence fee money for that very purpose?

The right hon. Gentleman makes an effective point. May I also take this opportunity to thank the many people I met in Bath for making my visit to his constituency at the beginning of the month so enjoyable? As he knows, Martha Lane Fox is leading the Race Online 2012 campaign to encourage as many people as possible to get online. Public libraries, through the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, have set a target of getting 500,000 people online, and I know that the BBC is pushing forward interesting initiatives to encourage people to get online, which I discuss with it regularly.

The Government have abandoned the commitment to universal broadband by 2012 and instead trumpet their achievements in rolling out superfast broadband. However, in recent correspondence, I was told that the only way to monitor the progress of the delivery of superfast broadband was to check the website regularly. Will the Minister explain how progress on the delivery of superfast broadband can be monitored, and how it is being publicised?

We will regularly monitor progress on superfast broadband on several fronts, including cost, access, take-up and speed. British Telecom deserves to be congratulated as it is now rolling out superfast broadband to 90,000 homes a week, which I think is the fastest roll-out anywhere in the world. I hear what the hon. Lady says, and I hope that she will soon be able to have a meeting with Broadband Delivery UK to raise these issues directly.