Esther McVey is piling pressure on Government to introduce legislation to ensure all homes are fitted with broadband and for it to be is considered as essential utility such as water and electricity.
The Tatton MP hopes legislation will be included in the Queen’s Speech to tackle the inequalities of access, believing it should be the country’s top infrastructure project.
On May 11 Parliament will begin a new session and the Queen will unveil the Government’s new legislative programme and set out a series of Bills it hopes to pass in the coming year. Ms McVey believes a digital inclusivity bill should be included which would benefit the whole country.
She said: “This pandemic has shown us how important it is to have reliable internet access and how much we all came to rely on it. What it also showed was the postcode lottery of provision and how many rural areas struggled with accessing adequate speeds and many households not having any access at all. I want to see broadband in homes in the same way they are fitted with water and electricity supplies.
“Broadband should not be a luxury but an essential. Even prior to the pandemic, the country’s digital infrastructure needed improving and upgrading and with a new session of Parliament it is the right time to make this happen.”
Ms McVey said the Bill would remove barriers faced by residents who cannot access broadband because they are too far away from a cabinet.
She added: “By recognising broadband as a utility, all new homes will automatically be built with the superfast internet. Furthermore, telecoms providers will be permitted to install broadband into pre-existing premises in the same way a water provider would be permitted to install water pipes.”
Last year Ms McVey secured a Parliamentary debate on broadband setting out its importance and urging Government to reinstate its promise of gigabit capability by 2025 after Chancellor Rishi Sunak cut the financial support from £5 billion to £1.2billion.
Industry experts say 96 per cent of the country has at least 24Mbps capability, but Ms McVey said that is “a million miles away” from what the country needs and suggested speeds of 1gb were needed to ensure a “reliable” service capable of serving the needs of the public.
She said she will keep raising the issue and hopes more than 10,000 jobs would be created delivering the infrastructure and a further 1.2 million skilled jobs by 2025.