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Rural Related Politics - an RSN weekly review

23 December 2019

Below is an RSN review of last week's rural related politics as well as a look forward to the week ahead:

Last week in politics 
(16 December -  22 December )

On Monday 16th, the former chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, Simon Hart MP, was appointed Secretary of State for Wales in part of a ‘mini-reshuffle’ carried out by the Prime Minister after the general election.

On Thursday 19th, the Queen delivered a speech at the State Opening of Parliament, setting out the Government’s legislative programme for the forthcoming parliamentary session.  The Queen began by stating that the Government’s priority is ‘to deliver the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union on 31 January’ and seven of the announced bills were related to Brexit, including the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, which is expected to be brought forward for second reading tomorrow. On the Government’s domestic agenda, a strong emphasis was placed on the Government’s proposal of the NHS Funding Bill and the NHS Long Term Plan Bill, however other measures included plans for an Australian-style points-based immigration system from 1 January 2021 and longer sentences for violent criminals.

On Friday 20th, former Richmond Park MP Zac Goldsmith was awarded a peerage, allowing him to remain in Cabinet as an environment minister.

Also on Friday, the telecoms regulator Ofcom published is Connected Nations 2019 report, measuring progress in broadband and mobile services in the UK. Headline findings include:

  • Three million homes and businesses (10 per cent) now have access to full-fibre broadband connections; over 1.5million more premises than last year.
  • 4G coverage remains largely unchanged over the year. Individual operator coverage of the UK landmass varies, with the highest (EE) being 84 per cent and the lowest (O2) 76 per cent.
  • 91% of the UK has access to good 4G outdoor mobile coverage from at least one of the operators. This leaves nine per cent of the UK that does not have good outdoor 4G coverage from any operator, predominantly in rural areas. Some 66 per cent of the UK has coverage from all four operators. The proposed Shared Rural Network programme being negotiated between the operators and Government, with support from Ofcom, will aim to extend coverage for all operators well beyond this.
  • Although 80 per cent of homes and businesses should be able to get good 4G indoor coverage from all operators, this leaves one in five premises unable to do so.
This week in politics (23 December - 29 December)

Parliament has risen for recess during the Christmas period. It will return on Monday 6th January.


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