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matthew hancock official

Digital Minister Matt Hancock has again criticised the Scottish government for making slow progress on rolling out superfast broadband.

Last month, Mr Hancock told the Telegraph that Scotland is lagging behind the rest of the UK when it comes to superfast broadband availability and accused the Scottish National Party (SNP) of "sitting on UK taxpayers' cash since 2014".

This prompted an angry response from the SNP's Rural Economy Minister Fergus Ewing, who insisted the Scottish government has pledged to deliver 100 per cent superfast broadband access by 2021.

He described this as a "commitment that does not exist anywhere else in the UK" and refuted the claim that Scotland is lagging behind authorities in England.

However, Mr Hancock has now argued that the latest Ofcom broadband data clearly shows that Scotland is well behind the rest of the country when it comes to superfast broadband availability.

Figures from the watchdog showed that 92 per cent of premises in England and 89 per cent of those in Wales can access superfast broadband, compared with 87 per cent in Scotland.

Ofcom's data also indicated that six per cent of premises in Scotland cannot get "decent" broadband access, compared with three per cent in England and five per cent in Wales.

"They were a long way behind the rest of the UK and the report shows they still are," Mr Hancock commented.

"These excuses will be given short shrift by people who have watched buffering on their screens for three years while the SNP have been dreaming of independence."

Mr Hancock added that the SNP needs to be "shocked out of their stupor" and address the situation.

The Scottish Conservatives backed the Digital Minister's position, with a spokesperson saying the SNP has been "caught napping in its delivery of broadband".

"Thousands of homes in rural Scotland are missing out as a result," he said.

"It is only right for UK Ministers to join Scottish communities in demanding they get on with delivering their responsibilities."

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