COMMONS

Holyrood Minister questioned on digital connectivity

13 April 2018

The Scottish Affairs Committee hears from Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity in the Scottish Government.

Broadband provision in Scotland

As well as Fergus Ewing MSP, the Committee also hears from the programme directors of Reaching 100% and Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband, two agencies tasked with improving connectivity in Scotland. 

In this meeting, the Committee investigates the roles of the Scottish and UK Governments in developing policy and delivering improvements to the broadband and mobile network in Scotland. 

With the power to legislate on telecommunications held by Westminster, and the practical delivery of broadband and mobile coverage led by the Scottish Government, the Committee examines how this relationship works in practice. They consider how the UK Government's recently-announced Universal Service Obligation works with the Scottish Government's R100 programme, with both policies targeted at meeting the coverage needs of Scotland's rural communities. They scrutinise how the two governments worked together to develop these policies and what measures are in place to assess their effectiveness. 

The session also looks at Ofcom's role in regulating the broadband market, exploring the new measures they have introduced to drive competition and how these can be tailored to Scotland's specific needs.

Witnesses

Tuesday 17 April, Committee Room 8, Palace of Westminster

From 10.45am

  • Fergus Ewing MSP, Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity
  • Sara Budge, Programme Director, Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband
  • Clive Downing, Programme Director, Reaching 100% 
  • Robbie McGhee, Head of Digital Connectivity Policy, Scottish Government

Chair's comments

Chair of the Scottish Affairs Committee, Pete Wishart commented:

"Improving the broadband and mobile network in Scotland is central to ensuring the long-term vitality of our rural areas and the economic competitiveness of our towns and cities.

We want to ensure that the relationship between the UK and Scottish Government is sufficiently constructive to properly enable effective roll out of broadband across Scotland and we will be asking the Minister his view on some of the comments made by UK Ministers about the situation in Scotland.

The UK Government’s recent pledge to "work more directly with local authorities", and the development of initiatives such as City Deals, Urban Connected Communities and full-fibre network scheme, also raises questions.

We will be using this session to examine how policy and delivery will be coordinated. Is the Scottish Government keeping authority in some areas and being bypassed in others?"

Further information

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