Richard Benyon has welcomed the Queen’s Speech as the next step in delivering security for working people, increasing life chances for the most disadvantaged, and strengthening our national security.
He commented, “This is a One Nation Queen’s Speech that will improve lives across the country and will continue progress in delivering the Conservative Party’s manifesto commitments.
“It includes a number of measures which are especially relevant to us in West Berkshire.
“A Digital Economy Bill will put new obligations on broadband providers to make sure that everyone has access to an affordable high speed internet connection. The Government believes that it is on track to get superfast broadband to 95 per cent of households by next year, and this week restated its determination to ensure that the final 5 per cent are not left behind. The Universal Service Obligation will mean that even the most remote areas will be legally entitled to fast broadband by 2020.
“I’ve been pressing hard for measures to close the ‘digital divide’ and the contract with Gigaclear ensures that rural West Berkshire is ahead of the game on this: 99.9 per cent of households in West Berkshire, not already connected with BT or Virgin, are already on track to get superfast broadband.
“A Local Growth and Jobs Bill represents the biggest change in local finance for decades, giving local authorities control of the money they raise through business rates, so they can attract business and investment to their local areas. This is a change that I have been pressing Ministers to make and will go some way to resolving the very difficult funding issues faced by West Berkshire Council this year.
“Also welcome is a Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill which is intended to reform planning and give local communities more power to control and shape their own area.
“The Education for All Bill will include the new funding formula to deliver the Government’s manifesto commitment for fair schools funding. This is a really welcome measure which I am keen to see enacted in West Berkshire. Our schools are not funded fairly and deserve equal treatment.
“Finally, with my interest in defence, I was pleased that this Queen’s Speech put investment in Britain’s armed forces on the agenda, together with securing the long-term future of our nuclear deterrent and giving our security and intelligence agencies the powers they need to keep us safe.”