Tories to scrap broadband tax plan

The UK government’s proposed 50p (€0.55) broadband tax would be scrapped if the Conservative Party gains power at next year’s general election, according to shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Speaking to the Financial Times newspaper, Hunt said a Conservative government would not follow through with Labour’s planned levy on all telephone lines, which aims to raise £175m a year to fund high-speed broadband to all homes in the UK. He said the Party would reverse the planned tax “as soon as possible” after the general election next May, if the Tories gain power.

Hunt said the Tories would also scrap Labour’s plans to force public broadcaster the BBC to share £130m of the licence fee with other broadcasters, one of the main proposals in the Digital Britain report that Labour plans to legislate before the election.

Hunt also criticised the BBC Trust, which was developed by the government to regulate the public broadcaster, saying that it should be replaced as it acted as both regulator and cheerleader and was to blame for stifling media competition. He said the Conservatives could “rip up” the BBC’s royal charter, which created the Trust and enables the licence fee and expires in 2015, although he said the Party had no timescale for such a move.