Harriet Harman MP, Labour’s Shadow Culture Secretary, responding to a report by the Public Accounts Committee into the rural broadband programme, said:
“The extent of the mismanagement of this programme is shocking.
“David Cameron was meant to secure competition: all 26 contracts so far have gone to BT, and it is almost certain the remaining 18 will also go to them. And he was meant to secure value for money: the PAC report shows how officials failed to check BT’s costings. The project is meant to help our communities: it will be at least 22 months late.
“David Cameron and Maria Miller have also failed entirely in securing the transparency this project needs: BT’s rollout will only cover 90% of the country, so why haven’t they been stronger in requiring BT to publish their plans showing what areas they will cover? The Government must make it clear to BT and local councils that this information is to be released. Until they do so, other companies cannot step in to meet the demand for broadband in the final 10% of the country.
“All this is at the cost of £1.2bn to the squeezed taxpayer.
“It is disappointing that this out of touch Government is failing rural communities so badly. Labour believes in a One Nation approach, and that includes those in the countryside as much as in the cities.”