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New Clause 3

Report on the impact of the European Stability Mechanism on the economic performance of the European Union

‘The Chancellor of the Exchequer shall make a report to Parliament within one year of the Act coming into force and annually thereafter setting out an assessment of the impact of the European Stability Mechanism on the economic performance of the European Union.’.—(Emma Reynolds.)

Brought up, and read the First time.

Emma Reynolds: I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

New clause 3 would require the Government annually to update the House on their assessment of the impact of the ESM on the economic performance of the EU. Our economy and those of the member states of the

10 Sep 2012 : Column 87

eurozone, as well as those of the wider EU, are closely entwined through trade and our financial sectors. We also use the collective weight of the EU to negotiate free trade agreements with both developed and emerging economies. We therefore believe that it is reasonable to require a regular update from the Chancellor on how the ESM arrangements are affecting our major trading partners in the EU.

We welcome last week’s decision by the European Central Bank to set out its approach to outright monetary transactions, which is an example of the lender-of-last-resort role that such a eurozone central bank ought to have reached many months ago. However, the operation of OMTs will be tied to the operation of the ESM. It is therefore imperative that the operation of the ESM is undertaken appropriately and that any strict conditionality does not harm the delicate path back to economic growth.

As we explained on Second Reading, we are in favour of the Bill, which provides for the treaty change necessary to enable the establishment of the ESM by the eurozone, but we have concerns about the conditionality of the ESM. We will continue to argue that ESM and ECB support needs to avoid the punitive austerity that undercuts confidence and demand in an economy, pushes an economy back into recession, reverses the generation of tax receipts and increases welfare costs. Regrettably, that is exactly what has happened in the UK owing to the severe austerity that our Government have chosen to impose, despite the fact that the Business Secretary admitted yesterday that there is a problem of demand in the economy and despite the fact that he and his party agreed with us before the general election that cuts that went too far and too fast would choke off the recovery.

The question of ESM conditionality is at the heart of the divisions between right-wing and centre-left Governments across Europe. Germany holds a veto on the operation of the ESM, because its share of contributions converts to a blocking vote share. Germany’s representative on the ECB board was the only dissenter to the new ECB policy on OMTs that was announced last week and, incidentally, this week its constitutional court is expected to rule on whether the ESM is constitutional according to German law.

7.30 pm

Although the ECB policy has been adopted, there remains the prospect that it cannot be implemented without stringent austerity conditions because of the tie-in to the operation of the ESM. It is therefore imperative that the ESM remains under close scrutiny by our Government and by Members of this House and the other place. With more than 50% of our export trade going to the wider European Union, we are affected significantly by decisions taken on the ESM. For that reason, we believe that a routine annual process for monitoring developments in the EU economy is of great importance. We believe that new clause 3 would allow that to happen.

Mr Lidington: New clause 3 would require the Chancellor of the Exchequer to make a report to Parliament, within a year of the Act coming into force and annually thereafter, setting out an assessment of the impact of

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the ESM on the EU’s economic performance. To some extent that touches on issues similar to those we addressed when debating the Opposition’s previous two new clauses.

My argument to the Committee is that the requirement the Opposition are seeking to impose on the Government is simply unnecessary and otiose. The ESM treaty—the intergovernmental treaty among the 17 eurozone member states—requires the publication of annual accounts, so we fully expect information on the financial assistance that will be provided by the ESM to be made publicly available. That would be done in the same way that information on the use of the EFSF and its financial assistance programmes is currently made available on a public website. Furthermore, every EU member state is already required, as part of the assessment known as the European semester, to submit annually to the Commission a report on its own economic plans and performance. Therefore, the information that the Opposition are seeking will be in the public domain anyway.

We seem once again to have a proposal that would create an unnecessary reporting obligation and use civil service time in the UK on a mechanism of which the UK is not part. Parliament, through its Select Committees, the scrutiny system and the powers of the Backbench Business Committee, will continue to have plenty of opportunity to require Ministers to come to the House to be held to account for Europe’s economic performance and the United Kingdom’s place in shaping the EU’s economic policies. We do not need the new clause to give Parliament those powers. I hope that the Opposition, on reflection, will choose to withdraw the motion.

Emma Reynolds: The objective of new clause 3, as I have set out, is for the Government to monitor closely and assess the impact of the European stability mechanism on the wider economy of the European Union. Our economy is closely connected to the other 26 economies of the EU, with regard to both trade and, crucially, our banking sector. Our banks are heavily exposed to developments in the financial sectors of the other member states. It is therefore important that the Government allow the House to scrutinise the impact of the ESM, as well as their own decisions on the level of influence they choose to have on these discussions, even though we are not a member of the eurozone. It is not our policy that we should join the euro, just to clarify that for the Minister once more. Even though that remains the case, as a big member state in the European Union we should have a significant voice in all its developments, including the conditionality imposed on eurozone member states that seek support from the European stability mechanism.

Such matters may not be our primary responsibility as a non-eurozone member state, but we would nevertheless like the Government to be less isolated and to have more influence on the discussions about conditionality, because, as I set out earlier, we have reservations about the harsh austerity that is being imposed on Greece and other member states and that will probably be attached to support from this fund as well as previous mechanisms. It is for that reason that we tabled new clause 3. We believe that it is important that the Chancellor of the Exchequer monitors these developments closely and gives this House the opportunity to comment on and debate them.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.

The Committee divided:

Ayes 172, Noes 265.

Division No. 61]

[7.35 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane

Ainsworth, rh Mr Bob

Alexander, rh Mr Douglas

Alexander, Heidi

Ali, Rushanara

Allen, Mr Graham

Anderson, Mr David

Ashworth, Jonathan

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Bain, Mr William

Banks, Gordon

Barron, rh Mr Kevin

Beckett, rh Margaret

Berger, Luciana

Betts, Mr Clive

Blears, rh Hazel

Blomfield, Paul

Blunkett, rh Mr David

Bradshaw, rh Mr Ben

Brennan, Kevin

Brown, Lyn

Brown, rh Mr Nicholas

Brown, Mr Russell

Bryant, Chris

Buck, Ms Karen

Campbell, Mr Alan

Caton, Martin

Chapman, Jenny

Clark, Katy

Clarke, rh Mr Tom

Clwyd, rh Ann

Coaker, Vernon

Connarty, Michael

Cooper, Rosie

Corbyn, Jeremy

Crausby, Mr David

Creasy, Stella

Cruddas, Jon

Cryer, John

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Cunningham, Sir Tony

Dakin, Nic

Danczuk, Simon

David, Wayne

Davies, Geraint

De Piero, Gloria

Denham, rh Mr John

Dobson, rh Frank

Donohoe, Mr Brian H.

Doran, Mr Frank

Doyle, Gemma

Edwards, Jonathan

Efford, Clive

Elliott, Julie

Engel, Natascha

Esterson, Bill

Evans, Chris

Farrelly, Paul

Field, rh Mr Frank

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Flello, Robert

Flint, rh Caroline

Flynn, Paul

Fovargue, Yvonne

Francis, Dr Hywel

Gardiner, Barry

Glass, Pat

Glindon, Mrs Mary

Goggins, rh Paul

Griffith, Nia

Gwynne, Andrew

Hamilton, Mr David

Harris, Mr Tom

Havard, Mr Dai

Hillier, Meg

Hodge, rh Margaret

Hopkins, Kelvin

Hosie, Stewart

Howarth, rh Mr George

Irranca-Davies, Huw

Jamieson, Cathy

Jarvis, Dan

Johnson, Diana

Jones, Helen

Jones, Susan Elan

Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald

Keeley, Barbara

Kendall, Liz

Khan, rh Sadiq

Lammy, rh Mr David

Lavery, Ian

Leslie, Chris

Lloyd, Tony

Llwyd, rh Mr Elfyn

Long, Naomi

Love, Mr Andrew

Lucas, Ian

MacShane, rh Mr Denis

Mactaggart, Fiona

Malhotra, Seema

Mann, John

Marsden, Mr Gordon

McCann, Mr Michael

McCarthy, Kerry

McDonagh, Siobhain

McGovern, Alison

McGovern, Jim

McGuire, rh Mrs Anne

McKechin, Ann

McKenzie, Mr Iain

McKinnell, Catherine

Meale, Sir Alan

Mearns, Ian

Michael, rh Alun

Miliband, rh David

Miller, Andrew

Morden, Jessica

Morrice, Graeme


Morris, Grahame M.


Mudie, Mr George

Munn, Meg

Murphy, rh Paul

Nandy, Lisa

Nash, Pamela

O'Donnell, Fiona

Onwurah, Chi

Owen, Albert

Pearce, Teresa

Phillipson, Bridget

Pound, Stephen

Raynsford, rh Mr Nick

Reynolds, Emma

Reynolds, Jonathan

Riordan, Mrs Linda

Robinson, Mr Geoffrey

Rotheram, Steve

Roy, Mr Frank

Roy, Lindsay

Ruane, Chris

Ruddock, rh Dame Joan

Sarwar, Anas

Seabeck, Alison

Sharma, Mr Virendra

Shuker, Gavin

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Slaughter, Mr Andy

Smith, rh Mr Andrew

Smith, Angela

Smith, Nick

Spellar, rh Mr John

Straw, rh Mr Jack

Stuart, Ms Gisela

Tami, Mark

Thomas, Mr Gareth

Timms, rh Stephen

Turner, Karl

Twigg, Derek

Twigg, Stephen

Vaz, rh Keith

Vaz, Valerie

Watson, Mr Tom

Watts, Mr Dave

Whiteford, Dr Eilidh

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Williams, Hywel

Williamson, Chris

Wilson, Phil

Winnick, Mr David

Winterton, rh Ms Rosie

Wishart, Pete

Wood, Mike

Tellers for the Ayes:

Graham Jones and

Julie Hilling


Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Andrew, Stuart

Bacon, Mr Richard

Baker, Norman

Baker, Steve

Baldwin, Harriett

Barclay, Stephen

Barker, Gregory

Barwell, Gavin

Bebb, Guto

Beith, rh Sir Alan

Bellingham, Mr Henry

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berry, Jake

Bingham, Andrew

Birtwistle, Gordon

Blackman, Bob

Blackwood, Nicola

Boles, Nick

Bone, Mr Peter

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradley, Karen

Brady, Mr Graham

Brake, rh Tom

Bray, Angie

Brazier, Mr Julian

Bridgen, Andrew

Brine, Steve

Brokenshire, James

Brooke, Annette

Browne, Mr Jeremy

Bruce, Fiona

Buckland, Mr Robert

Burley, Mr Aidan

Burns, rh Mr Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burt, Alistair

Burt, Lorely

Byles, Dan

Cable, rh Vince

Carmichael, rh Mr Alistair

Carmichael, Neil

Carswell, Mr Douglas

Chishti, Rehman

Clappison, Mr James

Clark, rh Greg

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Crabb, Stephen

Crockart, Mike

Crouch, Tracey

Davey, rh Mr Edward

Davies, David T. C.


Davies, Glyn

Davis, rh Mr David

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Dorrell, rh Mr Stephen

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Duddridge, James

Duncan, rh Mr Alan

Ellis, Michael

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Eustice, George

Evans, Graham

Evans, Jonathan

Evennett, Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Farron, Tim

Featherstone, Lynne

Foster, rh Mr Don

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Francois, rh Mr Mark

Freeman, George

Fuller, Richard

Gale, Sir Roger

Garnier, Sir Edward

Garnier, Mark

Gauke, Mr David

George, Andrew

Gibb, Mr Nick

Gilbert, Stephen

Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl

Glen, John

Goldsmith, Zac

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Gove, rh Michael

Graham, Richard

Grant, Mrs Helen

Gray, Mr James

Greening, rh Justine

Griffiths, Andrew

Gummer, Ben

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Halfon, Robert

Hames, Duncan

Hammond, Stephen

Hancock, Matthew

Hands, Greg

Harper, Mr Mark

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Hayes, Mr John

Heath, Mr David

Hemming, John

Henderson, Gordon

Hendry, Charles

Herbert, rh Nick

Hinds, Damian

Hoban, Mr Mark

Hollingbery, George

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Hopkins, Kris

Horwood, Martin

Howell, John

Hughes, rh Simon

Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy

Huppert, Dr Julian

Hurd, Mr Nick

Jackson, Mr Stewart

James, Margot

Javid, Sajid

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Johnson, Gareth

Jones, Mr David

Jones, Mr Marcus

Kawczynski, Daniel

Kelly, Chris

Kirby, Simon

Knight, rh Mr Greg

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Lamb, Norman

Lancaster, Mark

Lansley, rh Mr Andrew

Latham, Pauline

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Dr Phillip

Leech, Mr John

Lefroy, Jeremy

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewis, Brandon

Lewis, Dr Julian

Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian

Lidington, rh Mr David

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Lloyd, Stephen

Luff, Peter

Lumley, Karen

Macleod, Mary

Maynard, Paul

McCartney, Jason

McCartney, Karl

McIntosh, Miss Anne

McPartland, Stephen

Menzies, Mark

Metcalfe, Stephen

Miller, Maria

Mills, Nigel

Milton, Anne

Mitchell, rh Mr Andrew

Mordaunt, Penny

Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, James

Mosley, Stephen

Mowat, David

Mulholland, Greg

Munt, Tessa

Murray, Sheryll

Newmark, Mr Brooks

Newton, Sarah

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

Nuttall, Mr David

Offord, Dr Matthew

Ollerenshaw, Eric

Opperman, Guy

Ottaway, Richard

Paice, rh Sir James

Parish, Neil

Patel, Priti

Paterson, rh Mr Owen

Pawsey, Mark

Penning, Mike

Penrose, John

Percy, Andrew

Phillips, Stephen

Pincher, Christopher

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pugh, John

Raab, Mr Dominic

Randall, rh Mr John

Reckless, Mark

Redwood, rh Mr John

Rees-Mogg, Jacob

Reid, Mr Alan

Robathan, rh Mr Andrew

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Rogerson, Dan

Rudd, Amber

Russell, Sir Bob

Rutley, David

Sandys, Laura

Selous, Andrew

Shapps, rh Grant

Sharma, Alok

Simmonds, Mark

Skidmore, Chris

Smith, Miss Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Sir Robert

Soames, rh Nicholas

Soubry, Anna

Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline

Spencer, Mr Mark

Stanley, rh Sir John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Stride, Mel

Stuart, Mr Graham

Stunell, Andrew

Sturdy, Julian

Swayne, rh Mr Desmond

Swinson, Jo

Swire, rh Mr Hugo

Syms, Mr Robert

Thurso, John

Timpson, Mr Edward

Tomlinson, Justin

Truss, Elizabeth

Turner, Mr Andrew

Tyrie, Mr Andrew

Uppal, Paul

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vickers, Martin

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Ward, Mr David

Watkinson, Angela

Webb, Steve

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, Mr John

Wiggin, Bill

Willetts, rh Mr David

Williams, Mr Mark

Williams, Roger

Williams, Stephen

Williamson, Gavin

Willott, Jenny

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Wright, Jeremy

Wright, Simon

Young, rh Sir George

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Noes:

Mark Hunter and

Joseph Johnson

Question accordingly negatived.

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The Deputy Speaker resumed the Chair.

Bill reported, without amendment.

Third Reading

7.48 pm

Mr Lidington: I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

I want to begin, as is customary, by thanking those right hon. and hon. Members who have taken part in debates on the Bill. Even though it contained just two clauses, many Members have raised a number of interesting and controversial points about the context and impact of the European Council decision that the Bill seeks to approve. I am delighted that the Bill stimulated such parliamentary interest. It is difficult to single out any one Member—I apologise to any whom I do not mention—but I want to place on record my thanks to my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Mr Cash) and the European Scrutiny Committee. The whole House has benefited from his knowledge and his long held and principled approach to these matters. Although the Government do not always take the same view as he and his fellow Committee members on every point that they raise, the Committee has fulfilled its role commendably.

On the Opposition Front Bench, the right hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire South (Mr Alexander) and the hon. Member for Wolverhampton North East (Emma Reynolds) clearly articulated the Opposition’s position on a number of matters and indicated their support for the Bill, for which I am grateful.

My hon. Friends the Members for Harwich and North Essex (Mr Jenkin), for Camborne and Redruth (George Eustice), for North East Somerset (Jacob Rees-Mogg), for Stroud (Neil Carmichael), for Hertsmere (Mr Clappison), for Rochester and Strood (Mark Reckless), for Basildon and Billericay (Mr Baron) and for Peterborough (Mr Jackson) have all played a part in debates on the Bill. I value the intelligence and thoughtfulness that they have brought to those debates. I also pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Cheltenham (Martin Horwood), who ably represented his party and powerfully made the case for the Bill from a perspective slightly different from that of some of my party colleagues.

I turn to Opposition Members. I thank the hon. Members for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow (Mr McCann), for Swansea West (Geraint Davies) and for Caerphilly (Wayne David). I also thank the hon. Member for Luton North (Kelvin Hopkins), without whom no debate on these matters could be complete. I also put on the record my gratitude for the outstanding work done by officials, at both the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Treasury, in putting together this legislation.

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As was set out on Second Reading, the purpose of the Bill is simple and straightforward. It provides solely for the parliamentary approval of an amendment to article 136 of the treaty on the functioning of the European Union. That proposed treaty amendment makes it clear that eurozone member states may establish a financial assistance mechanism—the European stability mechanism, or ESM. In other words, it says that the eurozone can support fellow eurozone members in financial difficulty without contravening their obligations under the EU treaties.

Although article 136 applies only to member states whose currency is the euro, and therefore not to the United Kingdom, it is in our interests to ratify the European Council decision to amend it for two reasons. The first is that the ESM will play an important role, providing the eurozone with a permanent financial assistance mechanism to assist eurozone member states in financial difficulty. It will help eurozone countries work towards stability. Stability in the eurozone is crucial to our own stability in the UK. Although I accept all the points made in our debates about the measure not being a panacea and the European Union needing to do many things to make itself much more competitive and to stimulate economic growth in today’s rapidly changing global economy, the Government believe that the measure is one significant step towards helping stability in the eurozone, which will assist the United Kingdom’s economy.

Secondly, the passage of the treaty amendment will bring a direct benefit to the United Kingdom and our national interest. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister secured an important agreement alongside the treaty amendment. In future, the UK will not be liable through the EU budget for any future eurozone bail-outs under the EU budget once the ESM comes into force.

The treaty amendment was considered by Parliament before the Prime Minister agreed to the treaty amendment decision back in March 2011; at that time, we handled the decision under the provisions of the previous legislation, the European Union (Amendment) Act 2008. At the time, I committed to bring the decision before the House a second time, under the more stringent parliamentary scrutiny of what was then the European Union Bill and is now the European Union Act 2011.

The Bill has been introduced to gain parliamentary approval to enable the UK to complete its ratification process for the treaty amendment through primary legislation, which enables Members of both Houses to debate in detail the implications of the treaty amendment in a way that was not possible under the 2008 legislation, which made provision only for a time-limited debate on a motion before each House.

The treaty amendment is due to enter into force on 1 January 2013, subject to ratification by all member states. Parliament’s approval of the Bill will take us one step closer to ensuring that that happens. It is important that we do not put any artificial obstacles in the way of that happening.

Members have examined and challenged both the brief content of the Bill and the wider impact of agreeing to the treaty amendment decision, as was our intention when we introduced the European Union Act 2011. Although we have heard a broad range of views on the rights and wrongs of the eurozone, on the EU and on the UK’s place in Europe, one thing that has found general agreement on both sides of the House is that

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approving this Bill makes sense. Agreeing to the treaty amendment is in our best interests because it will extinguish our future exposure to liabilities under the European financial stability mechanism. For those reasons, I hope that the House will give the Bill a Third Reading this evening.

7.56 pm

Wayne David: As the Minister explained, the Bill is narrow and specific. It is very short, but very important. I should like to say a few words to put it in a broader context. I was a Member of the European Parliament for 10 years. I was elected in 1989, so I saw the completion of the single market. I well remember Lord Cockfield, Commissioner for the internal market from 1984 to 1988, arguing forcefully for the completion of the single market. I also remember the Cecchini report, which was essential in winning the necessary ideological battle for progress to be made on the single market.

At that time, many of us in the socialist group at the European Parliament had reservations about how it was envisaged that the single market would develop and concerns about the widening gap between the rich and poor parts of the European Union. The response then was to enhance the structural funds. In particular, cohesion funding was brought forward to address initially the concerns of the four poorest member states and it expanded in size to encompass some of the new countries coming into the European Union. As we all know, the Maastricht treaty was in many ways the logical conclusion of what people saw as a journey from the creation of the single market into a fully fledged economic and monetary union.

Britain, of course, had its famous opt-out and that was probably right. That was certainly recognised by the Labour Government elected in 1997. The five economic tests came forward. A judgment had to be made on joining economic and monetary union. Would it provide the United Kingdom with higher growth, stability and a lasting increase in the number of jobs? It was decided that those criteria would have to be met if Britain were to join EMU.

It is important to stress that although there were economic concerns and reservations, there was a tremendous political impetus in favour of economic and monetary union. That was clearly demonstrated when Greece was allowed to join EMU in 2001. Everything was okay as long as the world economy, and the eurozone economy as it developed, were doing well. But the chickens came home to roost with the monetary collapse of 2008 and the consequences that emanated from it. With the benefit of hindsight, many people would probably argue with the way in which a single currency was created and the speed at which that movement was made, and with the fact that many countries, particularly Greece, were allowed to join it without proper economic consideration being given to that. Nevertheless, the political impetus was there.

Now, of course, the question is how we deal with the problems that have arisen in recent times. It would be a huge mistake if the voices of the Eurosceptics were taken seriously and we stepped back into splendid isolation and not only refused to participate in the European venture but wished the end of the eurozone. I say that not because of any ideological commitment to

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the idea of the eurozone but because I realise pragmatically that a successful eurozone is important for the British economy and the British people.

Andrew Percy (Brigg and Goole) (Con): I was not planning to intervene in this debate, but I do so because the hon. Gentleman refers to ignoring the voices of Eurosceptics. Those are the voices of what appears to be the majority of people in this country, if one believes the polls. Perhaps we should allow the public to have a say in a proper referendum, and then it would be for them to decide whether we want to draw back from the EU rather than having pro-Europeans patronising the country about what we should or should not do in relation to Europe.

Wayne David: I think that most people in this country are concerned about its economic well-being. Yes, they are concerned about our national sovereignty; even people who describe themselves as pro-European do not want to give up British sovereignty. Many people see the European Union as essentially a mechanism to pool sovereignty in the collective best interests of those who live on that continent. It is important for that spirit to be carried forward in how we relate to the current difficulties in the eurozone.

I generally welcome the pragmatic way in which the Government have gone about establishing the ESM. As the Minister said, nobody would claim for one moment that the ESM, by itself, will solve the problems of the eurozone—it will not—but it is one important step towards resolving them. I therefore hope that this House will give its endorsement to it. However, to take his comments further, the ESM is not enough. It must be monitored, examined and possibly extended in some way if there is a need for that in future, but we must also pursue policies collectively that will enhance the competitiveness of the European Union.

Just as importantly, we need a growth strategy. That is the crucial issue that faces the peoples of all countries within the European Union. If recent history teaches us anything, it is that austerity by itself is not enough. It is not enough in this country—that is why we are in a double-dip recessions—or in the eurozone. I very much hope that there will be an increasing question mark over the German-led policy of austerity above all else. We need to make sure not only that we have reasonable public finances, that the debt burden on our neighbour countries is reduced and that there is competitiveness, but that our economies are collectively stimulated. That is in the best interests of this country. I believe that if the ESM is agreed, it will be an important step towards a more prosperous Europe for us—but it is only one step.

8.4 pm

Martin Horwood: I congratulate the Minister on his magnificent handling of the Bill. I am very pleased that he stayed in his place in the reshuffle, because his expertise in matters European is now encyclopaedic. I am sure that the quality of our debates and his contributions has not reduced, but these European Bills are certainly going through faster, as we seem to have got through this one at great speed.

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The contributions of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton North East (Emma Reynolds) have been positive and constructive, and there has been a great deal of consensus, even extending at times to some traditional Eurosceptics. I was very impressed to see the hon. Members for North East Somerset (Jacob Rees-Mogg) and for Camborne and Redruth (George Eustice) among those who have been supporting the Bill during its passage. That is as it should be, because this should not be a controversial piece of legislation. We are not going to be part of the ESM intergovernmental treaty; we are merely seeking to facilitate eurozone members in trying to find their way out of what is still an extremely serious crisis.

That has to be in the British national interest, because whether we like it or not— whether or not we are a member of the ESM or the eurozone, or even of the European Union—we are inevitably and inextricably linked to the whole European economy. Some 50% of British trade, worth £450 billion a year, is with other EU member states. Over 100,000 British firms export to other EU countries, 94,000 of them small or medium-sized enterprises. Over 200,000 UK companies trade with the EU every year. Over 50% of our foreign direct investment comes from other EU member states, worth more than £350 billion a year, and over 50% of companies investing in the UK cite the UK’s membership of the single market as a core reason for doing so. The fate of the European economy is inextricably tied up with our own fate and with our ability to grow and to recover from the financial crisis that has affected the whole continent.

This is, in its own small way, an historic Bill. It is the first use of the European Union Act 2011, which sought to strike a balance between Liberal Democrat enthusiasm to maximise the benefits of EU membership and Conservative caution that we take not one step without adequate parliamentary scrutiny and, if necessary, legislation, and without the option of a referendum if power were being transferred from the British level to the European level. No such referendum is necessary on this occasion, as this is merely a Bill to ease the passage of the intergovernmental treaty for other members of the European Union. However, the full panoply of parliamentary scrutiny of legislation has been brought to bear even on this small, technical change.

As the Minister rightly said, the treaty that will, we hope, follow the Bill at European level will not be a panacea even for ESM members and eurozone members. It will not, of itself, solve the deep and serious problems of the European economy, which relate to competitiveness, lack of growth, and debt. These complex, interacting problems still pose a real and present danger to the whole European economy, including this country’s economy. We have not in any way solved those problems in the few days that we have spent debating this Bill, but perhaps we have made one small contribution to the start of the journey towards doing so.

8.8 pm

Steve Baker (Wycombe) (Con): Without wishing to astonish my right hon. Friend the Minister, it will be my pleasure to support the Government on this European matter, for all the reasons that he has set out. I am very grateful to find myself in the company of my hon. Friend the Member for North East Somerset (Jacob Rees-Mogg).

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However, I want to place on the record my profound misgivings about the huge centralisation of economic power, almost entirely beyond economic control or legal challenge, that is going to take place in Europe. The European Union has not abolished economic nationalism; it has simply raised it to the continental scale, just in time to be in danger of a currency collapse. Our friends in Europe are potentially entering into a dreadful error from which it may be that democrats and liberals should recoil in horror. I wish that they were not doing so, and I look forward to the judgment of the German constitutional court.

I commend to my right hon. Friend the initiative for a free and prospering Europe that is being proposed by my friends in eastern Europe, which asks for a radical decentralisation of economic power. Europe is going in entirely the wrong direction with the ESM. I wish it were not, and I am very glad that the Government are liberating us from any liability in relation to this monstrous mess.

8.9 pm

Jacob Rees-Mogg: It is a real pleasure to speak in favour of this Bill, because it is surprisingly important. The more we have debated it, the more clear its importance has become. It is important because it saves the British taxpayer risking substantial amounts of money. When the treaty was agreed, I was disappointed that we had not asked for more, because Her Majesty’s Government had a strong negotiating position and might have been able to start the process of renegotiation and ask why we did not have a more à la carte Europe, to use a French term, if I may, Mr Deputy Speaker, against the preferred guidance of “Erskine May” that one should stick to English.

The Government have achieved something considerable by appearing to be very modest. We have seen the clawback of powers from Europe for almost the first time. Under article 122 of the Lisbon treaty, we had opened ourselves up to substantial and potentially unlimited liabilities for the failures of the eurozone. Once it was accepted that article 122 could be used for emergency bail-outs and the regulation was not challenged, it was conceivable that further regulations could be introduced and that, although each one would have been subject to challenge individually, once the first was accepted, there could have been a continuous chain of bail-outs, resulting in billions and billions of pounds’ worth of liabilities for us.

If I may make a cheap party political point—there is an occasion for such a thing—it is worth noting that it was the previous Labour Government who signed us up, during their dying days, to this almost unlimited liability.

Emma Reynolds: It is always a pleasure to intervene on the hon. Gentleman. I have in my hand an explanatory memorandum by a previous Economic Secretary, who is now the International Development Secretary. It states:

“The Government regrets that the Scrutiny Committee did not have time to consider this document”—

meaning the document on the establishment of a European financial stabilisation mechanism—

“before it was agreed at Council. It should be noted that whilst agreement on behalf of the UK was given by the previous administration,”

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to which the hon. Gentleman has referred,

“cross-party consensus had been gained.”

Jacob Rees-Mogg: When the hon. Lady started with, “I have in my hand”, I thought she was going to say, “a piece of paper”, and that we were going to be promised peace in our time, but, sadly, she offered party political disagreement instead. It was more like a battle than peace. All I would say is that the Government of the day were Labour. I accept that the incoming Government failed to challenge the use of article 122—they should have done that and it was a pity that they did not—but that was where we were: socialist extravagance spending our money and signing us up to bailing out the whole of Europe over and over again.

What did we get in place of that? We got a sound Conservative Government, with the help, for once—the worthwhile, marvellous and delightful help—of our Liberal Democrat coalition partners, who were robust enough, which some might say is most out of character, to support us in getting powers back from the European Union, which has almost never happened before. That is important because the whole basis on which the powers of the EU have been built—the acquis communautaire—has been one whereby it gets powers and never gives them away again. It is the doctrine of the occupied field that once Europe has taken over a policy area, it is in control of it and it never goes back to the nation state.

It is therefore a real triumph for the Government to have got this agreement on the treaty on the functioning of the European Union and that the article 122 mechanism has been cast to history. Although that is not being said officially—we do not have a signed document saying that article 122 will not be used—we have a very strong political agreement between all the Heads of Government and Heads of State, signed up to by the Commission, and, most importantly of all, a new mechanism.

The other good thing about the mechanism and the treaty approach that has brought it to us is that we have a proper parliamentary procedure to ratify it. It is so marvellous and commendable of this Government that they are taking parliamentary accountability and democracy seriously. They could have done it differently. They could have just bulldozed it through on a quiet Wednesday afternoon in a debate lasting an hour and a half or two hours, but they chose not to do that. They introduced a Bill that required a proper process and they actually allowed time for the debate—so much time that we may even finish early. That is another good argument for parliamentary scrutiny—time is not used up unnecessarily in the House of Commons; it is used for proper consideration of what the Government are doing.

This new Session’s resolution can therefore be: let us support this marvellous Government and let us support the Front Bench and Treasury Bench representatives as they go boldly forth. They stand up, show backbone and act like a lion—not, as somebody may have once said, like Bagpuss—against Europe. They make sure that the British position is put clearly and forcefully and that powers are returned home.

There is a great lesson for Her Majesty’s Government in this: when they show backbone, force and courage, not only do they receive rapturous support from Members on the bustling Back Benches, but they receive support from the country at large. As the Brussels directives are

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sent away and batted back home, so the opinion poll rating rises. I hope that the Government will learn from this and act on it in future.

8.15 pm

Emma Reynolds: As always, it is a great pleasure to follow the hon. Member for North East Somerset (Jacob Rees-Mogg). On behalf of the Opposition, I, too, would like to thank all right hon. and hon. Members who have taken part in today’s and last week’s debates on the Bill.

The Opposition support the Bill, as my right hon. Friend the shadow Foreign Secretary and I set out on Second Reading. Indeed, there seems to be a worrying level of harmony between those on the Opposition Front Bench, the Government Front Bench and the Liberal Democrat Benches. It even extends to the hon. Member for North East Somerset, to whom I say, in French, c’est un plaisir. To return the compliment, it is a pleasure to be in agreement with him. That agreement, however, does not extend to all of the Conservative party’s Back Benchers. As ever, there is some disagreement between those on the Treasury Bench and Conservative Back Benchers, but let us not dwell on that.

The Bill does not deal with the substance of the eurozone’s new bail-out fund, the European stability mechanism; it deals only with the treaty change required to allow for its establishment. To make our position clear, we do not believe that the UK should stand in the way of the eurozone setting up a fund that will be financed by the eurozone, operated by the eurozone and used by eurozone countries should they need that support. We believe that the eurozone must be allowed to take responsibility for this new, permanent bail-out fund.

Forty per cent. of British exports go to the eurozone, and many British businesses rely on the wider consumer market of 500 million people offered by the European Union. We therefore support immediate and decisive action by the eurozone to stabilise the single currency, because we believe that that stability is firmly in the UK’s national interest. The European stability mechanism is one necessary element of that decisive action. For too long there has been an absence of concrete action by eurozone leaders. Political inaction has, unfortunately, become the norm. As the eurozone’s problems developed, that inaction served only to deepen the crisis.

As many commentators have noted recently, had the European Central Bank announced its support for the eurozone two years ago and used the unequivocal terms that we have heard recently from Mario Draghi, who said that the ECB would provide a fully effective backstop for the currency, it is possible that the crisis would not have reached this stage and that it would be nearing its end.

As the OECD stated last week,

“weakness in the periphery is spilling over to the core.”

It continued that

“further policy action is needed to instil more confidence in the monetary union.”

Although the ESM is certainly not a silver bullet to solve the eurozone crisis, its establishment is definitely part of the solution and is exactly the type of action that the OECD has called for.

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Speculation on the future of the euro and uncertainty about the political will of eurozone leaders to save the currency have driven instability in Europe’s financial markets. Without that essential market confidence in the eurozone’s readiness to protect its weaker members, borrowing costs for countries on the periphery have rocketed. Coupled with the weak and under-capitalised banking systems of certain countries in the eurozone, that has led to a vicious circle of financial instability.

The OECD has emphasised that:

“Solvency fears for banks and their sovereigns are feeding on each other.”

It also stated:

“Concerns about the possibility of exit from the euro area are pushing up yields, which in turn reinforces break-up fears. It is crucial to stem these exit fears.”

It is clear that as banking systems have become increasingly weakened, pressure has grown on sovereigns, and that as the financial uncertainty has grown, the cost of sovereign borrowing has risen, which has raised borrowing costs for businesses and individuals. As economic growth has stagnated, the Governments of certain eurozone countries have had to borrow more, and as they have become more indebted, fears about their sustainability and ability to support their banking sectors have risen. That has driven an increased cost of borrowing, and the cycle begins again.

In the short term, it is extremely difficult to break that vicious circle without action from an external body, such as the EU, the ECB or the IMF. In Greece, Italy and Spain, the circle has become almost impossible to break without the financial markets believing that the eurozone as a whole is acting as guarantor.

Six weeks ago, the president of the ECB, Mario Draghi, said that he would do “whatever it takes” to save the euro. Only with that guarantee does the ECB believe it can break the vicious circle and begin to lower the cost of borrowing in the eurozone periphery. To that end, the ECB last week announced plans for a new scheme of Government bond buying, which will operate alongside the ESM. Along with other voices around the EU, including our Government and other Governments, we welcome last week’s announcement. Indeed, the French President, Francois Hollande, said in reaction to Mario Draghi’s announcement that “the euro is irreversible” and that the eurozone is now solving problems that have been pending for too long.

Mr Clappison: The hon. Lady is giving a most interesting analysis of the situation. What is her view, as the Opposition spokesman, on the means by which the ECB’s interventions will be financed?

Emma Reynolds: It was important that in its announcement, the ECB emphasised that there would be some sterilisation of its additional spending, which was intended to allay fears about inflation, particularly in Germany.

Mr Clappison: How credible does the hon. Lady think those promises of sterilisation are?

Emma Reynolds: The market reaction to Mario Draghi’s announcement suggests that they are very credible, because in the days afterwards, the markets rallied.

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Steve Baker: People in the markets have a much shorter-term view than is generally suspected. They will always be grateful to know that there is a willing buyer with unlimited funds for whatever they are holding.

Emma Reynolds: I agree that they will be happy about that. That is why it is important that what the ECB president set out last week is carried through and supported by the eurozone Governments. It must not be seen as an announcement that will come and go. I believe that Mario Draghi and the ECB have set out important steps that have been needed for some time to provide a back-stop for the single currency.

Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (The Cotswolds) (Con): The ECB’s announcement was made alongside the fact that it would impose conditions on the buy-outs of bonds. There is concern in some countries that they will not be able to meet those conditions. Is my hon. Friend the Member for Wycombe (Steve Baker) not right to say that the market is taking a very short-term view? Unless there are strict fiscal conditions so that the situation improves, the buy-outs of bonds will not solve the problem.

Emma Reynolds: I thank the hon. Gentleman, because he brings me on nicely to the next part of my speech, which is about the conditionality of the ESM and the bond buying that was announced last week.

The conditionality of the ESM requires further scrutiny. As with our Government’s economic failings, we are concerned that the ESM will impose harsh austerity on countries that receive its support, and thereby choke off economic growth and recovery. In the UK, the effect of such “austerity alone” economics is acutely felt by the 2.65 million people who are unemployed. The former US Treasury Secretary, Larry Summers, last week reflected on the Government’s economic mismanagement at a conference in London:

“We have avoided the prospect of a 1930s-like experience in the US. I cannot say the same with respect to Great Britain. The downturn in British output is more sustained than at any point in the twentieth century. In such an environment, to radically slash public investment is, I would suggest, to violate the Hippocratic Oath—first, do no harm.”

Although he was referring to the catastrophe of our Government’s economic policy, he could have been talking about other countries within the eurozone that have been the subjects of severe austerity.

Although it is true, as the hon. Member for The Cotswolds (Geoffrey Clifton-Brown) suggests, that the fiscal position of countries in the medium term must be looked at—the level of debt to GDP in Greece, which has been over 100% since the early 1990s, is certainly unsustainable—Greece and other countries must be allowed to get back to growth as a means of reducing their deficits and debts. As we are seeing in this country, without that growth, it is more difficult to bring down a country’s annual deficits and longer-term debt.

Thankfully, the debate in Europe is beginning to shift towards a focus on growth and job creation, rather than austerity alone. In particular, we welcome the growth measures agreed at the European summit in June. However, we note that the debate is ongoing in Europe between those who argue for growth and job creation, and

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those who believe in austerity. It is regrettable that our Government are still very much on the wrong side of that debate.

The Government try in vain to blame the eurozone for their own economic failure, but even their own Back Benchers are not convinced. Last week, the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis) told an audience in the City that it was wrong for the Government to blame the eurozone for their current economic failings. Before the summer recess, the hon. Member for Bury St Edmunds (Mr Ruffley), a member of the Treasury Committee, said that the Government must not use the eurozone crisis as an alibi. The Opposition recognise the importance of the eurozone and of Britain’s place within the EU in building growth and prosperity. However, the Government’s failure to deliver growth two years ago and their continuing failure to focus on it have left us more vulnerable to the escalation of the eurozone crisis.

I will reflect briefly on the wider future of the eurozone and the role that the ESM will play. In contrast to the unequivocal statements of support for the euro from Mario Draghi and Francois Hollande that we have heard in recent days, some hon. Members have called today and throughout the Bill’s passage for the break-up of the euro and have argued against the establishment of the ESM. However, the break-up of the eurozone is not an easy, cost-free way out of the crisis.

If Greece were to leave the eurozone, the consequences could be disastrous for Greece and for the rest of the EU. If the euro were replaced by a new currency in Greece, the value of that currency would in all likelihood plummet, causing a further disaster in the Greek economy. Moreover, the contagion effect following that could be hugely damaging for the rest of Europe. Far from stabilising the eurozone, a Greek exit might serve only to deepen the sovereign debt crisis. International lenders, seeing Greece cut loose from the euro, may become wary of lending to other struggling states in the eurozone. Greece may become only the tip of the iceberg as investor panic drives up borrowing costs for Italy and Spain, the eurozone’s fourth and third largest economies.

Mr Clappison: I am grateful to the hon. Lady for giving way; she has been most generous. Throughout the debate, I have been interested in how the various measures will be financed. She has now turned from Mr Draghi’s proposals to those that we have in front of us today. What is her view of the fact that Italy and Spain seem to be significant contributors to the ESM, even though she has just mentioned them as being prospective beneficiaries?

Emma Reynolds: It is not impossible for them to be beneficiaries and contributors at different points, so I do not really see the difficulty that the hon. Gentleman is trying to point out.

Depositor confidence would also be damaged by the contagion effect that I mentioned. In the past year alone, 10.9% of deposits have been withdrawn from Spanish banks, which is a staggeringly high amount. In the event of a Greek exit, it is unlikely that such banks would be robust enough to survive if there were a sustained run. In that scenario, the Greek bail-out could appear small in comparison with the sums that may be needed to support other states in the eurozone.

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For the reasons that I have given, we support the Bill. The establishment of the ESM is not a silver bullet, but it is nevertheless a key part of the solution that is so urgently needed to resolve the eurozone crisis. It is manifestly in the UK’s national interest that stability is restored to the eurozone, so we welcome the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed, without amendment.

Business without Debate

Delegated Legislation

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),

Terms and Conditions of Employment

That the draft National Minimum Wage (Amendment) Regulations 2012, which were laid before this House on 19 June, be approved.—(Greg Hands.)

Question agreed to.



That Lisa Nandy be discharged from the Education Committee and Siobhain McDonagh be added.—(Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, on behalf of the Committee of Selection.)

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Broadband (East Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire)

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—(Greg Hands.)

8.31 pm

Andrew Percy (Brigg and Goole) (Con): I congratulate the Minister on the perfect timing of his arrival in the Chamber, which I can only assume is a result of having some sort of superfast broadband connection to inform him that the debate was about to commence.

The title of the debate could be somewhat confusing. It is about broadband in east Yorkshire and north Lincolnshire, and by east Yorkshire I mean the whole ceremonial county, not the constituency of my right hon. Friend the Member for East Yorkshire (Mr Knight), which should perhaps be called Bridlington and Pocklington, although I am not sure what the good folk of Market Weighton would think about that. [Interruption.] Or Driffield, indeed. Nevertheless, it is good to have my right hon. Friend here to support the debate from his new position as a member of the Government, and I congratulate him on that. I think he is the only Member from east Yorkshire or north Lincolnshire to be serving in government. I was shocked not to receive a call myself, but there is always another year.

The debate will focus on both east Yorkshire and north Lincolnshire, as I represent communities in both. I will therefore split my speech into a number of sections. My main focus is to put some questions to the Minister on certain issues, and I will list those at the beginning of my speech rather than wait until the end—I always think it is fairer to Ministers that way. First, I will talk about flexibility in broadband delivery and particularly whether wireless broadband can be considered as a possible solution along with fixed-line deployment. Secondly, I will ask the Minister whether the north Lincolnshire broadband bid can be moved further up the procurement ladder, and thirdly, I will talk about deployment across the east riding with reference to Kingston Communications. Of course, the position in the broader Hull area is unique, because there is no BT provision, only KC. Fourthly, I will seek assurances from the Minister about the potential funding gap in the east riding’s broadband plan, and fifthly, I will ask for guarantees that projects are on course to be completed by 2015. I believe we have until half-past 10, so I may also speak for a short while about 4G provision, which I plan to get to at about 9.50 pm. We are in for a good evening.

This campaign enjoys cross-party, cross-Humber support, and it is good to see my hon. Friends the Members for Scunthorpe (Nic Dakin) and for Cleethorpes (Martin Vickers) in the Chamber. I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Beverley and Holderness (Mr Stuart) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis) are also much involved with this issue. In general, superfast broadband cannot come quick enough to the good folk of east Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire, and in parts we enjoy some of the worst broadband connectivity in the country. As we try and move our economy forward, particularly the renewables agenda and our enterprise zones, it is vital that rural broadband—and, indeed, more urban broadband —is rolled out as quickly as possible.

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I congratulate the Government—the Conservative-led Government as we like to call them when things are going well; the coalition Government when things are not going quite so well—on the £8.5 million they are investing in what they are not allowed to call the Humber region: north Lincolnshire and east Yorkshire. We have a number of not-spots across our area, and for my constituents—particularly in villages such as Adlingfleet that rests on the east Yorkshire/north Lincolnshire border, which is currently undefended—there is absolutely no broadband coverage and people struggle to get 0.5 megabits on their fixed-line broadband.

The roll-out of broadband cannot come fast enough. More and more of my constituents have to work from home and want to access telehealth services, which is simply not possible with the sort of connection speeds found in a lot of those communities. I therefore welcome the commitment to have superfast broadband rolled out to 90% of my constituents by 2015, with the remainder receiving 2 megabit broadband through other means.

I mentioned some of the benefits of superfast broadband. In north Lincolnshire, it has been estimated that the average cost of residential care is £18,000 a year per person and, as I mentioned, there is an increasing move to telehealth services, which will return a saving of £11,000 per person in a single year. I went to see telehealth services in operation at Goole in the east Yorkshire part of my constituency and I was incredibly impressed. Of course, if people do not have good broadband connectivity—or none at all—it is not possible for those services to be rolled out.

In north Lincolnshire, 52% of children under 15 are unable to use the same online tools they use at school because of poor or no access to the internet. As my hon. Friend the Member for Scunthorpe will attest, I know from my previous profession that more and more homework is delivered through online tools that young people have to access at home, but that is not possible for a lot of our communities. Indeed, in some communities in east riding, it is not even possible to access those tools at school. I visited Pollington-Balne primary school on the edge of east riding, which is unable even to access BBC education tools. The kids all have iPads and are connected to the school internet, but they are unable to access even the most basic tools on the BBC website.

This morning I kicked off the new school term at Goole college where I had a meeting with the newly appointed principal—I congratulate her on that—and she told me of the problems there. Broadband access, therefore, is a problem not only in rural communities, but also in more urban areas. More and more of our constituents across east Yorkshire and north Lincolnshire are seeking to access education online, whether through distance learning or something else, but find that that is simply not possible given some of the connection speeds.

Anne Marie Morris (Newton Abbot) (Con): Will my hon. Friend give way?

Andrew Percy: I will, of course, give way to my hon. Friend. She is not quite from north Lincolnshire or east Yorkshire, but I know she will have something to say on the matter.

Anne Marie Morris: My point is that broadband is not, dare I say it, just a problem in the north of the country; it is also a problem in the south-west.

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Broadhempston primary school got access to broadband for the first time only last year and, as my hon. Friend has said, without that, how can our young people learn?

Andrew Percy: Absolutely, I confess that my geography gets a bit shady south of Sheffield, but my hon. Friend’s constituency—

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): Order. Just to help with the geography, I am sure we are not going to stretch it too far again. I understand that the hon. Lady wanted to get the south-west on the record, but this debate is about Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.

Andrew Percy: There will be no mention of Lancashire, Mr Deputy Speaker, which I know will disappoint you.

My hon. Friend’s point was a general one about the whole country. Many of our schools cannot access the educational tools they wish to access because of poor broadband speeds. Access to those speeds makes such a difference. The double whammy in my area is that schools have lower funding compared with schools in other parts of the country. Investing in more impressive kit therefore becomes more challenging for them.

It is estimated that small and medium-sized enterprises with superfast broadband continue to grow by 4.7%, compared with 0.6% for those without. My hon. Friend the Member for Scunthorpe recently collected an award on behalf of Scunthorpe because it has the fastest-growing online retail business.

Nic Dakin (Scunthorpe) (Lab): I congratulate my hon. Friend and neighbour on securing the debate. He is quite right that the Google award for retail, of which people locally are very proud, went to Scunthorpe last year. He importantly underlines the value of broadband in not only retail, but business generally, health, education and other services. I was pleased when he said that he will urge the Government to bring forward the 2015 date for rolling out broadband in north Lincolnshire and look forward to him getting to that section of his speech.

Andrew Percy: I thank my hon. Friend and neighbour for his intervention. He is right. I visited a business in West Cowick on Saturday that wants to grow but that is currently restricted by its broadband connectivity. It attracts many corporate clients—we need that kind of cash in our part of the world—but it will struggle as it tries to expand because of its poor broadband connectivity.

That brings me to one solution and my first main point: the potential for wireless broadband to help with the roll-out. I was unaware of the amount of wireless availability in the area. Jibba Jabba, whose catchy name will resonate with anybody who used to watch “The A-Team”, is part of Lakeside IT and based in Doncaster—we will forgive it for being just over the border in south Yorkshire—and Quickline, which is based in Hessle, are two locally based companies that currently offer between 10 megabits and 40 megabits, which is roughly equivalent to the speeds experienced by urban residents with carbon fibre connections. Their services are available across the whole of east Yorkshire and north Yorkshire and are expanding to cover north-east Lincolnshire.

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I met the companies a few weeks ago and told them I would be interested in trialling wireless broadband alongside my fixed-line broadband to see how it works and have been staggered by what happened. I have done a number of speed tests in the past couple of weeks. In the small village of Airmyn, just outside Goole, where I live, I record speeds of about 2.5 megabits for downloads and 0.5 megabits for uploads on my fixed-line broadband. I cannot do a great deal with that—it is just enough to stream iPlayer and such, and sending files is incredibly time consuming. Speeds on my wireless broadband, which is simply a small box on the side of the house, have gone upwards of 28 megabits for downloads and about 18 megabits for uploads. Those numbers are currently reduced because something is being done to the mast, but they will increase.

In many other parts of the world, wireless broadband is being used as part of the roll-out, but it is not part of the delivery plans here. My argument to the Minister is that we need more of a push on wireless broadband. People in the whole of my constituency can achieve significant speeds through wireless broadband, so we need to give it more importance, because we will struggle in parts of the country to roll out fixed-line broadband by 2015.

Anne Marie Morris: I support all my hon. Friend says on the importance of flexibility, but as fewer fixed-line companies can compete with BT, does he agree that the new parts of the market he describes become even more crucial as part of the franchise if we are to have the open, competitive market that will solve the problem?

Andrew Percy: I agree entirely, and it comes, of course, without all the infrastructure problems. I have a lot of respect for BT and have worked with it on a number of issues, but the roll-out programme is very BT-centric, and we need to consider broadening that. As one wireless provider said to me, “It’s not the entire solution, but it can bring rapid deployment at reasonably little cost”, which would help to justify, particularly in marginal areas, the demand for those areas being commercially fibred—if that is the term. BT is involved in that through its trialling of white space wireless technology. This has to be part of the solution. I am told that in many parts of the world—eastern Europe and the US, for example—superfast wireless broadband is very much part of the mix. We want that mix here. I want wireless broadband rolled out as far as possible by 2015.

Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes) (Con): I congratulate my hon. Friend on securing this debate. He makes a powerful case for our area and will know that the border between his constituency and mine is a particular blackspot. Ironically, Humberside international airport is located in the area around the villages of Kirmington and Croxton. We all recognise the importance of connectivity, both physically and through the broadband network, and he is right that it is vital that this is not entirely an O2 job and that we look to other providers. As we know, it is competition that makes the difference.

Andrew Percy: Of course, my hon. Friend meant BT.

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Martin Vickers: Yes, I did.

Andrew Percy: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. One of the communities on our boundary, South Ferriby, has sourced a wireless solution for the village from one of the providers I mentioned earlier. It has decided to get on and do it itself.

I want to turn to the North Lincolnshire delivery plan. It is good news that in our area BT has commercially fibred the Brigg exchange, while it has recently been announced that the Scunthorpe exchange, which my hon. Friend the Member for Scunthorpe and I share, will be upgraded. Across most of north Lincolnshire, however, the situation will remain unchanged. The broadband delivery plan bid is for £12 million, of which £2.62 million is being provided by Broadband Delivery UK and the rest match funded by the European regional development fund—which, of course, is just British taxpayers’ money by another means and with a big chunk taken out—and by the council and the private sector.

I want to make the case to the Minister on why we must be moved up the list of priorities. North Lincolnshire is a particularly high priority owing to the accessibility and relative compactness of northern Lincolnshire as a rural area. It is also very flat in large parts, which makes roll-out much simpler, and has good ground conditions, making cable laying inexpensive. I am more than happy for him to visit north Lincolnshire, if he wants, to see how easy it is to dig up our land.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport (Mr Edward Vaizey): With a shovel.

Andrew Percy: Yes, he can bring a shovel.

We have high levels of economic growth based on renewables and offshore wind. We have big investment coming that will be a real motivator to delivery as we move forward, and we have two giant enterprise zones, one on the south bank at Grimsby and the Able marine energy park, which will bring with it thousands of jobs. The delivery plan has been highly rated. Indeed, when people came up from the Cabinet Office in the past couple of weeks to look at how North Lincolnshire’s delivery plan was written, they were said to be very impressed. It is a high priority for BT and is sixth on Fujitsu’s priority list. Sadly, however, we are 23rd on the BDUK procurement list and have been given a slot in December. With the issues around state aid, however, there are concerns that there could be some slippage. Given the huge renewables agenda in our area and the high priority given by BT and Fujitsu, we deserve to be reconsidered. All areas will make that claim, of course, but there are specific reasons north Lincolnshire should be moved up the procurement list. I will be more than happy to provide the Minister with even more reasons, should he want them.

Mr Vaizey: Has my hon. Friend finished?

Andrew Percy: Not quite. I am going to talk about east Yorkshire now; it is a disadvantage of representing two counties. [Interruption.] With almost perfect timing, my hon. Friend the Member for Beverley and Holderness joins the debate just as I move on to east riding.

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We have a specific issue in a large part of east Yorkshire. Kingston Communications, the telephone service provider in Hull and the surrounding area up to Beverley, is a separate company that was developed by the local council. There is no BT provision in that area. KC’s internet service, Karoo, has a mixed reputation, but it is delivering broadband speeds of 100 megabits in parts of Hull. KC is, however, excluded from the national procurement framework. Will the Minister take into account the unique nature of the area, given that it has that historical network which specifically excludes BT? KC cables are installed not only in the area from Hull to Beverley but across the whole of east Yorkshire, and they could be tapped into as part of the roll-out.

The delivery of the East Riding’s broadband plan will be particularly difficult, because it is the most rural unitary authority in England. It has particular geographical problems and a lot of small, remote communities.

Mr Graham Stuart (Beverley and Holderness) (Con): My hon. Friend will also know just how many small businesses there are in the East Riding of Yorkshire. It is not some rural backwater. There is a huge amount of entrepreneurial activity there, and it is increasingly reliant on access to the internet. That is why I congratulate him on securing this important debate tonight.

Andrew Percy: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. He is a passionate advocate of better broadband connectivity in his constituency, and I know that he takes a close interest in this issue.

If the funding gap for the East Riding broadband plan is greater than 50%, will Ministers look again at its funding allocation? We welcome the Government’s temporary announcement on broadband infrastructure planning, which we hope will speed up the roll-out. We also hope that safeguards will be put in place to accommodate reasonable objections, particularly in conservation areas. Will the Minister give a guarantee that the projects in east Yorkshire and north Lincolnshire are on course to be completed in 2015?

I am using the opportunity of this longer Adjournment debate to raise all these points, Mr Deputy Speaker, and I hope that it meets with your approval that I am taking more time than usual. There are two counties involved and the case for each of the broadband delivery plans is compelling. I hope that the Minister will be able to respond to my questions on wireless, on North Lincolnshire’s position on the list, on whether there will be a funding gap in the East Riding, and on whether we can look into the KC issue.

Mr Stuart: I should like to put on record that my right hon. Friends the Members for East Yorkshire (Mr Knight) and for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis) and I all fully support my hon. Friend in his efforts to make the case for improved broadband infrastructure in east Yorkshire.

Andrew Percy: I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention. I should tell him, kindly soul that I am, that I mentioned those colleagues earlier in the debate. We are all on the same page on this issue.

My final point is on the same topic but goes off on a slight tangent. It relates to 4G. We know that 4G technology is going to play a part in the nation’s broadband

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solution, and it is particularly important for people on the go. For many, that is equally as important as their broadband at home. It is always good to cite a report in Parliament, and I should like to mention one produced by Capital Economics, which found that the deployment of 4G broadband could create or protect 125,000 jobs nationally and lead to £5.5 billion-worth of direct investment over the next three years, adding 0.5% to the UK’s gross domestic product.

We had a conversation recently with Everything Everywhere, which I believe is Orange and T-Mobile, and it has been given permission to roll out 4G on some of its spectrum—tomorrow, I believe. It is important that the 4G spectrum auction, which has already seen significant delays—I want to press the Minister on this point—happens as soon as possible, so that consumers can benefit from more competition in the market and have good access to superfast broadband not only at home, but when they are on the go, too. On those points, I conclude and look forward to hearing the Minister’s response and his assurances.

8.55 pm

Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes) (Con): I congratulate my hon. Friend and neighbour the Member for Brigg and Goole (Andrew Percy) once again on securing this debate on a subject that is vital throughout the country and particularly in our part of northern Lincolnshire. I cannot speak for the east Yorkshire part of my hon. Friend’s constituency, because that is beyond the passport control point.

Northern Lincolnshire has been recognised by the Government in their excellent decisions over recent months in designating enterprise zones in the Grimsby and Cleethorpes constituencies, to which my hon. Friend referred. The Government recognised the possibilities for the renewable sector, particularly the offshore renewable sector. Like my hon. Friend, I do not particularly care for onshore renewable wind turbines, but we recognise the importance of offshore, and if that is to take place, not just the large companies based on Immingham dock—the largest port in the country—but the small, rural villages need to be involved, too. I mentioned in my intervention Croxton and Kirmington in my constituency, which have been particularly badly hit. Their parish councils are doing a tremendous job in constantly bringing that to my attention.

Immingham itself has a number of blackspots. It is fair to congratulate Tom Horton at the Oasis academy which, along with One Voice Immingham, has played a large part in advocating the needs of the area. Indeed, they got Virgin interested in providing an alternative broadband service to that of BT—not to that of O2, as I mentioned earlier; it would seem that I live in the past, when O2 was part of BT. As I say, this is important not just for businesses based in Immingham dock, but for small businesses that can develop in the villages around the constituency of the hon. Member for Scunthorpe (Nic Dakin) as well as those in my Cleethorpes constituency. We have also recently heard about difficulties accessing benefits. That can be done online, and we need to encourage it.

In recent months, one of the Government’s actions to boost our area has been the reduction in Humber bridge tolls. Only today the Grimsby Telegraph—that

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organ of local communication so vital to people of the Grimsby and Cleethorpes area—features a story about a business that relocated into Barton-upon-Humber in the north end of my constituency solely because of the benefits accrued since the reduction in the tolls. We have seen—

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): Order. I am sure that it is possible to discuss many parts of the county, but I am sure, too, that we want to get back to the subject of broadband rather than the tolls. I can see the benefit of their reduction for businesses, but it is certainly not for the benefit of this debate.

Martin Vickers: Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, for drawing me back closer to the important issue of broadband.

Mr Graham Stuart: Will my hon. Friend give way?

Martin Vickers: Gladly.

Mr Stuart: I am grateful, and I am sure that he was making the point that the admirable and excellent reduction in bridge tolls, the improvement of the A164, the Beverley southern by-pass and the vast investment in infrastructure—

Mr Deputy Speaker: Order. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that that is not part of the debate. Members certainly do not need to reply to the point or bring it into the debate again. I am being very generous and I am trying to help. I am sure that no one wants to test the Chair’s patience at this stage.

Martin Vickers: I certainly do not wish to test your patience, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but I welcomed the intervention from my hon. Friend the Member for Beverley and Holderness (Mr Stuart), who, as always, spoke words of wisdom.

Nic Dakin rose—

Martin Vickers: I will gladly give way.

Nic Dakin: All infrastructure is crucial. As the hon. Gentleman says, the specific infrastructure that is being argued for so urgently this evening is crucial for the development of business, and broadband is an important part of that. I welcome his comments.

Martin Vickers: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his intervention. One of the important consequences of the campaign for broadband in northern Lincolnshire is the teamwork that has developed between my hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Goole, the hon. Members for Great Grimsby (Austin Mitchell), and for Scunthorpe, and me. I believe that we are known locally as the A team.

The importance of broadband to small businesses in my constituency cannot be overestimated. We have developed considerably since the dark days of 20 years ago and the decline of the fishing industry in the neighbouring constituency of Great Grimsby. The

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development of that industry has actually been encouraged by broadband, and by sales throughout the UK and abroad.

I shall now conclude my remarks and await the comments of the Minister, who I know will have positive news for the people of northern Lincolnshire.

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): I call the Minister, with or without shovel for Lincolnshire.

9.1 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport (Mr Edward Vaizey): It is a great pleasure to respond to the debate, which began rather earlier than I had expected. I am glad that the eye-level cameras have not yet been installed in the Chamber, because if they had been, they would have captured graphic high-definition images of my sweating face as I returned post-haste to the Chamber to respond to this important debate.

It is good to be back in the Chamber of the House of Commons, but thanks to modern technology—partly brought about by the advent of modern communications —one is able to keep in touch with colleagues even when one is not in the Chamber. I must say that during the reshuffle madness that overtook us earlier in the week, when some of us were hoping to hold on to our jobs, I was grateful to Twitter for giving me an insight into the mental state of some of my colleagues.

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Goole (Andrew Percy) on initiating this important debate. Let me begin by saying that I think he is a great loss to the Front Bench. I know that it is only a matter of time before the Prime Minister sees sense and appoints him to the Front Bench, not least because I have read some of his tweets, which give an indication of the policies that will be introduced when he does join us. Lancashire is to be declared a rogue state; a new Department will be set up, the Department for Brigg and Goole—

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): Order. I am sure that the Minister does not wish to test the Chair by referring to Lancashire at this stage. I am sure that he is desperate to get stuck into Yorkshire and Lincolnshire—and only the minor parts of both counties.

Mr Vaizey: Knowing your personal interest in the future of Lancashire, Mr Deputy Speaker, I thought it important for you to understand the policies that may be presented to the House in future, including, of course, the final policy—the change of name from Snickers to Marathon. But you are quite right: it is important for us to return to the subject of the debate.

Let me also congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Cleethorpes (Martin Vickers) on contributing so ably to the debate. He is a soothsayer. I read a tweet from him 131 days ago, in which he said “Louise Mensch is a great talent of our party. One day she will be leader.” I read a later tweet regretting her departure from the House of Commons.

Martin Vickers: I should point out to the Minister that I do not tweet, and that the account set up in my name is a spoof.

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Mr Deputy Speaker: Order. I do not think that we should have any more mention of tweets. I think that we should return to the subject of broadband, and not worry about Members who have left the House and given notice that they no longer wish to be part of it. I call the Minister, and I hope that he will return to the subject in hand.

Mr Vaizey: It is very important for us to debate the provision of broadband services in the constituency of Brigg and Goole. My hon. Friend mentioned six issues on which he would like to hear from me about progress. The first was wireless provision. The second was whether the bid from his part of the world could be moved up the ladder. The third was the role of Kingston Communications in broadband delivery. The fourth was the question of what steps might be taken if a funding gap arises. The fifth was a request for a guarantee that broadband roll-out will be finished by 2015. The sixth was an update on 4G spectrum. In responding to those six points, I have an opportunity to update my hon. Friend and the House on the progress that has been made in achieving the Government’s objective of stimulating more private sector investment in locations where the commercial investment case is weak.

Let me make it clear that we do not underestimate the importance of superfast broadband in stimulating economic growth and in providing a core service for many businesses and consumers throughout the country. That is why one of the first steps we took on coming to office was to set aside some £530 million to support public intervention. It is important to stress the fact that that money has been provided to support the roll-out of superfast broadband where the market will not deliver.

The market will deliver to about two thirds of the country, mainly the urban areas. That will be done by BT and Virgin Media in competition with each other, and I am delighted to be able to say that both of those companies are investing many hundreds of millions of pounds in rolling out superfast broadband. Virgin Media has doubled the speeds it offers to consumers to about 100 megabits and BT has advanced the roll-out of its commercial broadband programme by a year.

Everybody knows, however, that some public support is needed to get broadband to some areas, particularly rural areas where the cost of laying fibre exceeds the potential market return. The £530 million sum I mentioned has been supplemented by a £150 million urban broadband fund, as well as a further £150 million for mobile infrastructure projects, and because of the way we have set out the programme, there will be additional money from local councils. There will be between £1 billion and £1.5 billion of public money going into broadband roll-out. That is a very significant amount of public expenditure in infrastructure.

The newspapers are full of talk about stimulation for growth and investment in “shovel-ready projects”. This is a shovel-ready project that will be going ahead in the next weeks and months and over the next two years. It will not only provide jobs, as many people will be employed to lay this fibre, but stimulate the economy by providing a broadband infrastructure.

I would like to acknowledge the significant contribution made by local authorities, which have stepped up to the challenge magnificently both in identifying local funds to match the Government contribution and in leading

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project procurement and implementation. North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire councils have put together proposals for a joint project, and East Riding of Yorkshire council has developed plans for a project in east Yorkshire. Indeed, we have been able to approve all local broadband plans, with the exception of one, Sandwell, which I hope will be ready for approval in the very near future.

Broadband Delivery UK state aid broadband notification has taken longer to be approved by the European Commission than was anticipated. We had hoped it would be approved earlier in the year, but we believe we are now in the final stage of discussions with the Commission on the detail, and we hope it will be signed off shortly. Once we have that approval, the BDUK team in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport will be able to give state aid approval for all projects that are compatible with the notification, allowing for a much more rapid turnaround than if the Commission had to deal with each one separately. I recognise that there has been some impact on the project pipeline, but we will work as hard as we can to meet our 2015 deadline for having the best superfast broadband in Europe.

We have used this time to our advantage. We have prepared projects for procurement under the BDUK framework. The framework contract was agreed by DCMS with BT and Fujitsu at the end of June. It allows projects to undertake accelerated procurement with standard terms and conditions. Five projects are already in procurement using the framework, and we have agreed with the bidders that further projects will enter procurement at a rate of about one per week from October onwards. We expect procurement to be complete by next summer. I would like to recognise the willingness shown by the suppliers to accommodate our shared desire to increase the pace of procurement.

I want to say a few words about broadband in north Lincolnshire. There may be concerns about the pipeline of projects, and my hon. Friend mentioned his concern about where his project resides in the list. The situation is straightforward: projects are listed in line with the order in which local broadband plans were approved. Projects that were able to move more quickly at the early stage have therefore appeared earlier in the list. While there may be other ways of defining the list, our experience has been that the order in which the projects come forward does broadly match their readiness to go ahead. However, if projects are not ready when their procurement slot is reached, we will promote another project up the list. I do not want to encourage my hon. Friend therefore to sabotage other broadband projects, but it is important that he be aware that, in effect, the list reflects when projects are ready for procurement; but the list can change, and it is therefore important that he and the project team keep in touch with BDUK.

BDUK is working to progress projects to preparation at the earliest opportunity, and I understand that north Lincolnshire should be entering the BDUK assurance process in early November and will be able to launch its open market review in that month. That will be a significant milestone for the project.

My hon. Friend also mentioned his concern about funding gaps. Again, I do not want to give him or others who have spoken in the debate false hope, but obviously our door is always open to hear concerns and

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requests. However, we do need clear evidence of a gap in funding before considering a request for further funding. We certainly expect good evidence to be made available of any shortfall, and we will consider a good case if one is put forward. I stress to my hon. Friend, however, that there needs to be clear evidence of a funding gap.

My hon. Friend also mentioned the position of Kingston Communications. The use of suppliers not listed on the framework is a matter for the project teams. We have of course encouraged projects to use the framework because it saves time and procurement process costs. We expect all the remaining procurements to be undertaken using the framework. We recognise that other suppliers, such as Kingston Communications, may have an interest in this programme. However, it must be for the project team, working with BDUK, to decide whether the benefits of opening the procurement more widely would offset the benefits of effectively departing from the framework contract. That is an important point to make.

Mr Graham Stuart: Just to nail this absolutely, can the project team decide to do that? They do not have to go through the framework, so they could, if appropriate, work with a company such as Kingston Communications.

Mr Vaizey: It is possible for them to do that, but as I say, they have to work with BDUK to decide whether that is the right way forward. It is for BDUK to sign off a procurement process that goes outside the framework. The decision has to be in conjunction with BDUK; it cannot simply be unilateral. BDUK is willing to sit down and discuss with the project team whether that is the appropriate way forward, but I must stress that it has to be done with BDUK.

Andrew Percy: Perhaps the Minister can therefore give an assurance that his departmental officials will offer all possible support to East Riding council, should it wish to investigate that approach further.

Mr Vaizey: Of course they will. You have indulged me enormously with my rather frivolous opening remarks, Mr Deputy Speaker, but I hope you will not regard it as frivolous when I say that, although my team of officials working in BDUK is small, they are highly effective and have devoted themselves to this project. I have never found them lacking in their ability to engage with Members.

I have made it a rule as a Minister always to have a meeting with any hon. Member who wishes to engage with me on this project, and the officials at BDUK have been utterly tireless in working with both me and other hon. Members to provide assurances. The team will work with Members, but I stress that it is important to

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work in partnership with BDUK and to listen to its advice about whether departing from the framework is the right way to go.

I have dealt with moving up the ladder, with how Kingston Communications could be involved, with our attitude to any funding gap and with our desire to reach our goal by 2015 notwithstanding the slight delay in obtaining state aid approval. My hon. Friend mentioned wireless technology and asked whether it would be part and parcel of any solution. We have always taken a technology-neutral approach to the delivery of broadband and it would be up to whoever won the contract to provide broadband in his part of the world to decide on the best delivery methods. For example, that could be provided purely by fibre, with the potential for some wi-fi, although we have always said that satellite could play a small part in the mix, too. It is important to take a technology-neutral approach and for the appropriate mix of technologies to be used to deliver superfast broadband at a cost-effective price.

I should mention a couple of other points. First, we had an important announcement last Friday, which should interest my hon. Friends, about removing some of the planning obstacles to rolling out superfast broadband. That is relevant, as it ensures that the money set aside by the Government and my hon. Friends’ councils to deliver superfast broadband will go as far as possible.

Finally, I know that I have stretched your patience, Mr Deputy Speaker, but my hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Goole mentioned 4G, which is also an important part of the broadband mix. People have complained that the 4G auction has been delayed and, of course, the 800 MHz spectrum at the heart of 4G has not yet been cleared because it was used for analogue television; we have not fully switched over to digital television and will not do so until the end of October. As I am sure my hon. Friend is aware—he mentioned the company in his speech—Everything Everywhere has applied to liberalise its 1,800 MHz spectrum for 4G and we are due to hold the auction for 4G spectrums 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz at the end of the year. We are on the verge of tipping over to introducing 4G services at the end of this year and throughout next year, which will have a transformative effect on the services available for mobile users.

As my hon. Friend said, more and more people are accessing the internet and, effectively, broadband services using mobile platforms. That is crucial to future growth in the UK economy and the Government will work very hard with mobile network operators to ensure that both the liberalisation of 1,800 MHz and the auction of 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz go as smoothly as possible, because at the heart of this question are the consumers and the businesses that will benefit from the introduction of 4G and of superfast broadband.

Question put and agreed to.

9.18 pm

House adjourned.