MSP accuses UK Government of keeping Holyrood 'out of the loop' on broadband plans

Mr Stevenson says rural communities are suffering because of the failure of the UK Government to efficiently deliver broadband services to the areas that need it most.
Mr Stevenson says rural communities are suffering because of the failure of the UK Government to efficiently deliver broadband services to the areas that need it most.

The UK Government has been accused of keeping Holyrood “out of the loop” on plans to implement a USO (Universal Service Obligation) limit on broadband.

It comes after Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson asked what discussions the Scottish Government had been in with Westminster for proposals to implement a 10-megabit universal service obligation for broadband.

The move would be less than Scottish Government’s proposals for at least 30 megabits.

Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Island Paul Wheelhouse told Mr Stevenson repeated calls had been made for the UK Government to match Scotland’s ambition.

Scotland is currently the only part of the UK to have committed to extending superfast access to 100 per cent of premises, supported by an initial procurement of £600million.

Mr Wheelhouse said this was “despite numerous requests” and while the regulation and legislation of telecommunications is wholly reserved to the UK Parliament, the UK Government has contributed “a mere 3.5 per cent of investment, with the Scottish Government committing 96.5 per cent”.

He added “no assurances” had been given that Scotland’s ambition to deliver 30 megabits would not be impeded by the UK Government deciding 10 megabit would be the limit.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said: “Rural communities are suffering because of the failure of the UK Government to efficiently deliver broadband services to the areas that need it most.

“Despite the Scottish Government’s willingness to, in time, deliver 30 megabits across Scotland to homes and businesses the UK Government continues to stall on this issue.

“The UK Government must give assurances its USO plans to deliver 10 megabits will not impede on the ambition we hold here to deliver broadband.”