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Volume 564: debated on Thursday 20 June 2013

Two thirds of premises in the UK now have superfast broadband available and 100,000 more homes and businesses are getting coverage every week. Average speeds increased by 69% last year.

I do not think that this is going fast enough, and that is not good enough. Will my right hon. Friend join me in congratulating the New Economics Foundation, which has published a report this week showing how the country could get much better value for the billions that are about to be spent on HS2 by diverting some of those billions into superfast broadband? Does she agree with Sir Charles Dunstone, the chairman of Talk Talk, who also says that HS2 money would be better spent by investing in high-speed broadband, and will she please stand up for this with her colleagues in Cabinet?

My right hon. Friend clearly has many things to say on high-speed rail, but I will leave that for another Minister. I can tell her that 100,000 more homes and businesses every week are getting access to superfast broadband. We are leading the way in Europe on investment in broadband, and we are in the top three of EU members states on coverage, take-up, usage and choice.

The Government backed north Yorkshire early on and we are about to deliver on having 90% homes with superfast broadband by early next year. We need a little bit more money to get to 95%. Will the Secretary of State meet me to discuss how much we need?

I am always happy for hon. Friends to meet the Minister responsible, and I am sure he will make that a priority. [Laughter.] In all seriousness, my hon. Friend the Member for Skipton and Ripon (Julian Smith) is right: we want even more coverage in the country. I would perhaps ask him to look in detail at how the rollout of 4G will help his community, which, after all, will leave the country with 98% coverage in its access to superfast facilities.