Lord barred from government broadband summit

A member of the House of Lords charged with overseeing rural broadband today expressed his fury at being turned away from yesterday's Government Industry Summit to decide strategy on broadband 'not spots'.

The Ulster Unionist life peer Lord Laird has been critical of the value-for-money offered by grants to government quangos. On Wednesday, he raised questions over the £140,000 given to one such body, the Community Broadband Network.

Former computer programmer Laird was prevented by civil servants from attending the meeting, held at the Department of Business, Industry and Skill.

An indignant Lord Laird told IT mag Computer Weekly: "I'm finding it impossible to get answers to questions about... where the money is going, and how broadband contracts are being allocated.

"Possibly they think I'll ask questions that will be difficult for them," he said. "I don't care if it takes me years, I will get to the bottom of it."

Laird himself is no stranger to questions of over spending - though it makes a change for him to be the one asking them.

Last year, parliamentary auditors revealed him to be the most expensive peer in parliament, racking up claims for expenses and allowances totalling £73,000 for the parliamentary year 2008-9.

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