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Digital Economy

Volume 542: debated on Thursday 22 March 2012

My Department is delivering a number of programmes and initiatives that will support growth and innovation across the digital economy and the economy more generally. We are investing up to £830 million in digital communications infrastructure by 2015 and working with Ofcom to deliver the 4G spectrum auction this year, and we will shortly publish a Green Paper setting out proposals for a regulatory framework for the communications and media sectors aimed at providing a thriving environment for growth and innovation in the UK.

I was delighted to read earlier this week that Britain leads the world in e-commerce, with 10% of all business taking place online. However, I am concerned about getting more young people involved in the industry, given that the number of people studying computer science is lower now than it was a decade ago and the proportion of women doing computer science has gone down to only 14%. What are we going to do to get more young people involved in the industry?

I thank my hon. Friend for that important question. As she is probably aware, e-Skills, the sector skills council, had a specific computing for girls scheme to encourage girls at school to study computing, but the Secretary of State for Education’s important speech on revolutionising the computer science curriculum in January shows that this Government are committed to ensuring that more people study computer science. We are working with industry to ensure that more children choose that option.

Order. I am sure that that is an immensely amusing and informative reply and we are grateful, but the House will want to hear Mr Weatherley.

Will the Minister welcome with me and the digital economy in Hove the news yesterday that Hove will be included in the next round of superfast broadband bids?

May I say, if you will indulge me, Mr Speaker, that I find it odd that Opposition Members have such distaste for Morocco? What is wrong with Morocco getting superfast broadband? Why is that seen as some kind of weird phenomenon? [Interruption.] Perhaps I am channelling my inner Boris.

May I congratulate my hon. Friend on how well he has campaigned for superfast broadband in his part of the world in Brighton and Hove? We will ensure that we work with him to ensure that the generous Government funding that is available supports his constituents.