New 'broadband minister' expected later this week
A new broadband minister could be appointed later this week according to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). The Culture minister Ed Vaizey has been linked with the role as he is known to have debated the issue in the House of Commons. Talking to the BBC, Malcolm Corbett, Chief Executive of the Independent Networks Co-Operative Association said that it was vital to get broadband policy on track.
The previous government faced criticism for not having a full-time minister to deal with the UK's digital economy. Stephen Timms was appointed as the minister for Digital Britain in August 2009 whilst also holding the role of Financial Secretary to the Treasury, two jobs that could be seen to conflict as one involves raising tax revenue, whilst the other spending it. Ed Vaizey would not be conflicted in such a way.
"We need to appoint a minister as quickly as possible. Without it UK broadband risks drifting and that is not a good thing for UK competitiveness. [..] Ed Vaizey would be a good bet as he is on top of the issues.Malcolm Corbett, (Chief Executive) Independent Networks Co-Operative Association
Conservative policy for broadband is to allow the market to lead the way in delivering high-speed, next-generation broadband services, with funding becoming available in 2012 from the BBC license fee to help address areas where the market has not been able to deliver. They plan to scrap the 50p 'phone-line' tax that Labour introduced in their budget which was to be used to fund next-generation broadband.