Government plans for a 50p landline tax to fund the rapid expansion of superfast broadband are being killed off in the 'wash-up' of legislation being rushed through parliament before it is dissolved for the general election on 6 May.
Angry rows about the way the telephone tax is being treated broke out in the Commons late on Tuesday.
Treasury financial secretary Stephen Timms launched a bitter attack on the Tories for holding up the provision of faster broadband in rural areas, and warned that cash from the BBC licence fee which the Tories plan to use instead will not be available for another three years.
Timms accused the Tories of "a disastrous betrayal of rural business, of young people and schools in rural areas and people living in rural areas who want to work from home".
However, controversial clauses in the Digital Economy Bill forcing internet service providers (ISPs) to crack down on copyright piracy were among clauses the Conservatives yesterday agreed should go on to the statute book.
The Tories have also blocked provisions enabling 'orphan' works to be used for fear that they will hit photographers and other rights holders, and are blocking the government's regional television news plans.
Tory spokesman Jeremy Hunt said that an incoming Conservative government would act "with the utmost speed" to deal with problems around the copyright protection proposals, but that ISPs had to recognise their critical role in tackling piracy.
Hunt added that the provisions protected two million jobs in digital and creative industries.
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