Secretary of state and minister of digital roles now occupied at DCMS - UPDATED
The new names over at DCMS are Nicky Morgan the MP for Loughborough as Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport with Nigel Adams the MP for Selby and Ainsty appointed as Minister of State for Sport, Media and Creative Industries and finally Matt Warman the MP for Boston and Skegness the Minister for Digital and Broadband.
The first order of business is going to be starting the ball rolling very quickly on accelerating the full fibre roll-outs. The 2025 commitment was re-iterated in the House of Commons by Boris Johnson.
We are committed to levelling up across every nation and region of the UK, providing support to towns and cities and closing the opportunity gap in our society. We will announce investment in vital infrastructure, full fibre roll-out, transport and housing that can improve the quality of people’s lives, fuel economic growth and provide opportunity.
Dr Caroline Johnson (Sleaford and North Hykeham) (Con)
I congratulate the Prime Minister and welcome him to his role. Some 19% of my constituents still do not have access to 10 megabytes of broadband, affecting their business, educational and leisure opportunities. Will my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister commit, as he has done during the campaign, to delivering broadband to every one of my constituents?
The Prime Minister
I thank my hon. Friend. She may have noticed that in the course of the recent election campaign I made it absolutely clear that we will accelerate the programme of full fibre broadband by eight years, so that every household in this country gets full fibre broadband within the next five years.House of Commons - Priorities of Government 25th July 2019 via Hansard transcript
Yes we know an MP said megabytes when they really meant Mega bits per second, but the key point is that we have the target date on the record in the House of Commons now.
In terms of any calculations around the target our intention is to stick with a date of 31st March 2026 for now, we are aware that we could interpret within 5 years as by end of July 2024 but past experience with the superfast pronouncements back in 2010 to 2012 means we will be assuming by end of the financial year in 2025.
At Connected Britain this June one interesting idea was raised by a panel member when responding the potential of 2025 being announced as the 100% full fibre date and they said what was needed was everyone to leave a town/area for a period of weeks to allow the teams deploying the full fibre the freedom to work at breakneck pace on closed roads. Other ideas such as overriding wayleaves requirements were also mooted but that is so radical and open to abuse that could create long legal challenges it seems unlikely - some half way house compromise will be needed though for flats and apartments where the building owner is refusing e.g. if a majority of residents agree to a roll-out in the block that this would override the owners objections.
The tight rope to walk now is being too optimistic and keep saying it can be done while not offering the help actually needed, being optimistic but with a degree of realism that there is a risk that the 100% may slip slightly but still be reached well ahead of the previous 2033 or the full stubborn position of it simply cannot be done and therefore no point trying.
Updated 31st July 2019
We have updated the item to include Matt Warman who has the role of Minister for Digital and Broadband, the previous Minister that covered Digital was Margot James who also had responsibilities for other parts of DCMS.