On 24th July 2018 Lord Fox asked Her Majesty’s Government “how they intend to deliver full-fibre broadband coverage, and what will be the cost to the taxpayer for these improvements.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I am grateful for the ambitious targets that Her Majesty’s Government are setting. I am concerned, however, because the commitment to get universal coverage for full fibre does not seem to fit with the statement on page 8 of the review:
“In areas where it may not be cost effective to get fibre all the way to the home, even with additional funding, other technologies … can also deliver gigabit connectivity. Bidders will be encouraged to explore innovative solutions”.
How does that fit with Her Majesty’s Government’s commitment? Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks about full-fibre broadband coverage”
On 19th July the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a question he had tabled to Government abour broadband speed. The exchanges and follow-up questions from other Members can be seen below:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the United Kingdom’s place in the annual ranking of global broadband speed and of the impact of low broadband speeds on the United Kingdom’s ability to compete globally after Brexit. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government what it will do to improve UK’s broadband speed”
On 13th March 2018 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Dame Caroline Spelman MP, answered a written question from Daniel Kawczynski MP about wi-fi and broadband in rural areas: Continue reading “Church Commissioner Written Answers – buildings and rural wi-fi / broadband”
On 13th March 2018 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Dame Caroline Spelman MP, answered a written question from Sir Mark Hendrick MP about using church spires in the Blackburn diocese for wi-fi and broadband: Continue reading “Church Commissioner Written Answers: wi-fi and broadband in Blackburn diocese”
On 11th July 2017, Rt Rev. Alan Smith, the Bishop of St Albans, asked Her Majesty’s Government “what proportion of the Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund is expected to be available to support the provision of superfast broadband in hard to reach rural areas.” The full exchange is below, along with the follow-up questions asked by other Members:
The Lord Bishop of St Albanso ask Her Majesty’s Government what proportion of the Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund is expected to be available to support the provision of superfast broadband in hard to reach rural areas.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Lord Ashton of Hyde) (Con): My Lords, the digital infrastructure investment fund aims to support industry investment in full fibre networks, which are the next generation of digital infrastructure. The Government are committing £400 million, which will be at least matched by private sector investments on the same terms. It will be up to the selected managers of the fund themselves to make investments.
Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government about broadband in rural areas”
On Thursday 23rd March 2017 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Teverson “That this House takes note of the Report from the European Union Committee Brexit: environment and climate change (12th Report, HL Paper 109).” The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, a number of questions have already been posed, and I pity the Minister for having to go through them in some detail. We heard earlier that we in this Chamber tend to be gloomy, and now we should be cheerful. I am neither; I am just puzzled—which is not a new experience.
From reading the report, which is a model of clarity, as are most of the Brexit reports that come from the various committees, it seems that, as we peel back the layers of the onion, we end up with more layers. I realise that that sounds paradoxical, but it seems to get more and more complex. The other night in the debate on Brexit and Gibraltar I tried to ask some questions about stress testing, to which I got no answer. So I shall try again, focusing very briefly on just one or two questions. Continue reading “Bishop of Leeds asks Government about farming and rural policy post-Brexit”
On 27th October 2016 the House of Lords held a short debate on a question from Lord Foster of Bath “to ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to ensure the rollout of superfast fibre broadband to homes across the country.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, my thanks, too, go to the noble Lord, Lord Foster, for securing this important debate. I, too, want to address rural issues and I declare an interest as president of the Rural Coalition. Many of our members are deeply concerned about this area. As other noble Lords have mentioned, nearly half of rural households in the UK currently struggle with broadband speeds of less than 10 megabits per second. Around one in five rural households can only access broadband speeds of under 5 megabits per second, and a significant proportion cannot access any broadband at all. This lack of connectivity acts as a huge obstacle to the growth of the rural economy and to rural sustainability. This is even more important as we get ourselves geared up for Brexit. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans highlights problems of poor broadband services in rural areas”
On the 27th April 2016, Baroness McItosh of Pickering led a Lords debate “to ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the state of the rural economy.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, highlighted the need for more affordable housing, business innovation and greater access to broadband and mobile coverage.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, my thanks go to the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, for securing the debate. I will focus on three areas that I believe are crucial to creating a strong, dynamic rural economy.
First, I underline the importance of affordable housing in creating sustainable rural communities at a time when rural house prices continue to be pushed well beyond the reach of many local residents. A failure to provide for local people and local families to live and work in rural areas leaves the rural economy seriously inhibited. An affordable housing supply, available to local workers on low and middle incomes, is an essential feature of the rural economy, providing homes, and, in many cases, workplaces for those who would work in rural areas. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans on the importance of affordable housing, broadband and innovation to the rural economy”
On the 10th September 2015 Caroline Spelman MP, Second Church Estates Commissioner, asked Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss about churches providing access to rural broadband.
Rt Hon. Caroline Spelman (Meriden) (Con): The Churches are keen to offer their buildings to help address better rural broadband provision. Would the Secretary of State be willing to convene a roundtable of interested dioceses and suppliers to share the findings of the rural superfast broadband pilots? Continue reading “Churches’ role in helping rural broadband provision”
On 25th February 2015, Lord Holmes of Richmond asked Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of broadband speeds, capacity and coverage in rural areas of the United Kingdom and in city technology hubs such as the Old Street roundabout. The Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Revd James Newcome, asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, many small rural schools, for instance in Cumbria, where I come from, struggle to access a high-quality broadband connection. That results in pupils missing out on educational opportunities through not having a good internet-based information supply. Can the Minister tell us what assessment the Government have made of this situation and how they intend to address it?
Lord Ashton of Hyde: My Lords, the right reverend Prelate makes a very good point. We are obviously concerned that schools have the benefit of superfast broadband, which is important if schools are to take advantage of the opportunities offered by learning technology. However, not every school is the same. Schools have the autonomy to buy a connection that meets their needs. Schools’ connectivity needs will vary depending on the size and type of school. The Government’s £780 million investment programme in broadband infrastructure will increase the broadband options available to schools, including to rural schools.