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An influential group of MPs has strongly criticised the government's 50p-a-month broadband tax proposal.

The Commons Business Committee has described the move – which is designed to fund the roll-out of high-speed broadband – as a "regressive step".

According to the group, poor people will be forced to pay for a service they cannot afford to use, simply because they have a telephone landline.

The committee's report stated that "there is little evidence to suggest a pent up demand for this enhanced service, with customers currently unwilling to pay the premium for such services".

It added: "If public funds are required for next generation access, they should be raised through general taxation, in the same way as for any other national infrastructure programme."

The Conservative Party has vowed to scrap the controversial tax if it enters government at the next general election.

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