Published:
June 2, 2015
Burnham's MP calls for faster broadband roll-out in Commons debut

Burnham-On-Sea's MP has urged the Government to "push on" with the roll-out of super-fast broadband across our area "as soon as possible" during his first speech in Parliament.

Conservative MP James Heappey spoke for the first time in the House of Commons last night (Monday, June 1st) since winning the seat from Liberal Democrat Tessa Munt during last month's General Election.

In his speech, he urged the Government to complete the final phase of fibre broadband roll-out in Somerset "as soon as possible."

He said: "The investment by this Government in broadband has already brought formidable results. Village by village, fibre connections are being made and life is speeding up. However, the final five per cent of super-fast broadband roll-out is disproportionately concentrated in constituencies like mine and so I urge the Government to push on with that final phase as soon as possible. Within that final few per cent will be some of Britain's isolated communities - we simply cannot leave them behind."

During the maiden speech, Mr Heappey also praised the work of the UK's armed forces, saying he had seen their work at first hand during his own military role.

"The world around us is changing quickly - new threats emerge as readily as the opportunities and so, for the sake of our security, our standing in the world and the good of our economy, it is important that we seek to shape the world around us rather than being waiting to be shaped by it," he said.

"We must be proud of and seek to maintain that Britain is a global power in the world. It is not just about our ability to project military power across the globe but the role that we play in the UN, in NATO, the Commonwealth and the EU."

"It is about maintaining our place as a global centre for business and trade, and it is about recognising that British culture and values reach far further and carry more influence than even the largest military ever could."

He added: "Before entering politics, Mr Speaker, I served our country in the army - firstly in the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment and then the Rifles. In that time I had the great privilege to serve alongside men and woman from all parts of this United Kingdom and indeed the Commonwealth, both here in the United Kingdom and overseas, in Basra, Kabul and Sangin."

"Those who serve our country in the Royal Navy, Army and Air Force accept an unlimited liability. If the government and this House ask them to deploy they will. And on the land, sea and in the air, we have confidence that our forces will punch well above their weight because I have seen at first hand just how courageous, determined and selfless our soldiers, sailors and airmen are. However, Mr Speaker, we owe those men and women the certainty that we will always support them and their families at home and overseas."

"Since the last Strategic Defence and Security Review, the threats facing our country have become much more complex. If Britain is to meet those threats, we must be clear in our intent to fund defence properly. We simply cannot ask our forces - regular and reserves - to meet all of those threats without resourcing them to do so. And so, as we progress towards the SDSR, we must understand that any further cuts in defence must mean a cut to our strategic ambition as a nation. I hope that neither is needed."

Mr Heappey also praised Burnham's previous MP, Lib Dem Tessa Munt, whom he beat by 7,585 votes in May's General Election.

"As this is my first time speaking to the House, I would like to pay tribute to my predecessor Tessa Munt. Ms Munt was a committed supporter of our community back in Somerset. Over a long and difficult campaign in a margin seat there had been much on which we disagreed, but it is important to note at this first opportunity the hard work of Tessa Munt and her dedicated staff."

"It is an incredible honour to stand here as the member of Parliament for Wells and I would like to thank my constituents for sending me here to speak on their behalf."

He continued: "Mine is a constituency that contributes greatly to Britain's standing in the world. The city of Wells is England's smallest city, but with the most complete ecliastical estate in Europe it is a major tourist attraction and the backdrop to many television programmes and films."

"In Street is the global headquarters of Clarks Shoes, a brand recognised around the globe and enjoying growth in new markets, whilst in Chilcompton is the fashion icon Mulberry. Shepton Mallet is the capital of cider production in this country and only this weekend the Royal Bath and West Show hosted once again the largest cider competition on the planet."

"In Highbridge, Burnham-On-Sea, Berrow and Brean we welcome well over a million tourists a year who come to stay on the magnificent Somerset coast and to journey inland to the Mendips Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Our local farmers produce the best milk money can buy - we just need to make sure they are paid what it is worth."



"Glastonbury hosts the best music festival on earth and Cheddar is famed for its Gorge and for lending its name to the world's most popular cheese. I'm so proud to represent such a beautiful and varied part of the world but while there is much to celebrate so is there much to do."

Turning to broadband, he said: "The Prime Minister called Her Majesty's speech a 'one nation programme' that will benefit all in our country and I am delighted because for too long rural areas have not received the same investment as our large towns and cities. Our market towns and village struggle with poor road connections, very limited access to the rail network, weak phone signals and achingly slow broadband. To unlock the incredible potential for economic growth in rural communities, we must improve that infrastructure."

"The investment by this Government in broadband has already brought formidable results. Village by village, fibre connections are being made and life is speeding up. However, the final five per cent of super-fast broadband roll-out is disproportionately concentrated in constituencies like mine and so I urge the Government to push on with that final phase as soon as possible. Within that final few per cent will be some of Britain's isolated communities - we simply cannot leave them behind."


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