Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Session 2002-03

Session 2002-03

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee today announced a new inquiry into the provision of broadband in rural areas.  The Committee has decided that the terms of reference of the inquiry should be:

"Taking account of the needs of private businesses, public services such as schools, and individuals, the Committee will examine the provision of broadband in rural areas.  In particular it will consider:

  • what demand there is for broadband in rural communities;

  • what provision already exists, and what is planned;

  • what obstacles there are to the provision of broadband in rural areas;

  • what roles are played by Defra and the Countryside Agency in relation to broadband, and what their relationship is with the UK Broadband Taskforce and those in Regional Development Agencies dealing with broadband; and

  • what alternatives to broadband exist or are being developed that might be of particular relevance to rural areas."

Like the Committee's current inquiry into the delivery of education in rural areas, the inquiry arises from the Committee's interest in the role played by Defra in ensuring that the interests of rural areas are taken into account in policy-making across Whitehall and elsewhere - in other words the extent to which Defra is a Department for 'Rural Affairs'.

The Committee invites, by Friday 28 February 2003, written evidence which addresses these terms of reference. Evidence must be submitted in an electronic format, either on disk or preferably by e-mail. It should be in Word or WordPerfect. If sent by e-mail it should for this inquiry be sent to Gavin Devine.  The e-mail must include a contact name, telephone number and postal address. The e-mail should also make clear who the submission is from.

Submissions should be as brief as possible, and certainly no more than 5,000 words. Paragraphs should be numbered for ease of reference, and it would be helpful to include a brief executive summary.

Those submitting evidence are reminded that evidence should be original work, not previously published or circulated elsewhere. Once submitted no public use should be made of it, but those wishing to publish their evidence before it is published by the Committee are invited to contact the Clerk of the Committee to obtain permission to do so.

Oral evidence sessions will be arranged and announced in due course.

Further details of the Committee, including its current membership, can be found on the Committee's homepage  Information about the Committee can also be obtained from 020 7219 3262.