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Superfast Broadband

Volume 588: debated on Wednesday 26 November 2014

The Government’s superfast broadband roll-out programme has invested £120 million, provided to the Scottish Government to deliver rural broadband services across Scotland. More than 150,000 Scottish homes and businesses now have access to broadband from the work done so far.

The Secretary of State will be aware that 69% of UK premises have access to broadband whereas the figure for Scotland is only 48%. Does he agree that the situation for my constituents in Torhead Farm is unacceptable? That housing scheme is served by two cabinets, one in the commercial scheme and the other in the community scheme, so one person has access to commercial broadband whereas their neighbour does not, because of the Scottish Government’s failing scheme. Can he help the Scottish Government to get a grip of this, so that everyone gets access to broadband services?

As the hon. Gentleman says, the responsibility for the delivery of this money and the improvements that can come from it has been given to the Scottish Government. I hear similar stories to the one he mentioned as I go across Scotland; it is clear that there are problems. If he wishes to furnish me with the details, I will be more than happy to take up the matter with the Scottish Government.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. My right hon. Friend will be aware of the excellent project to roll out fibre and broadband in Caithness, Sutherland and Ross-shire, with welcome funding from this Government. Is he as surprised as I am to learn that neither Openreach, nor the Highlands and Islands Enterprise is either capable or willing to say who will benefit? What can we do to get transparency into this process, so that these communities know what they are getting?

I am indeed aware of the projects to which my right hon. Friend refers, and I share his disappointment that, apparently, information as fundamental as that has not been given to his constituents. It is difficult to see why people would want to keep it a secret.

8. Superfast broadband could be assisted by the high data speeds given by 4G mobile. What will the Secretary of State do to ensure that high data speed 4G comes to rural and island areas sooner rather than later? (906210)

The hon. Gentleman rightly identifies 4G as an opportunity for communities of the sort that he and I represent. He will be aware of the money that has been put into the mobile infrastructure project by this Government. That work is going on and will ultimately assist in reaching 4G.