Local loop unbundling may require less, rather than more, competition to make it work, according to shadow trade minister John Whittingdale.
"There may be a danger that, if you insist on competition, trying to get as many people into the market as possible, you may end up with no-one in the market," he said on Monday.
Whittingdale was making his first appearance as shadow Department of Trade and Industry spokesperson at the Parliamentary IT Committee fringe meeting at the Conservative Party conference in Blackpool.
In other areas, he spoke in favour of more competition, such as in methods of broadband access. "I think it would be a great mistake for government or shadow ministers to say which one is desirable and which we should back," he said.
Whittingdale pointed to the squariel, the expensive receiver which the Conservative government foisted onto satellite broadcaster BSB, hastening its purchase by Sky, as an example of why governments should not back one kind of technology over another.
"I don't know how technology will develop, and I don't think the Government knows," he explained.
He also reaffirmed Conservative opposition to IR35, a tax change which cost some IT contractors a quarter of their income. "It will only affect a comparatively small number of people, but they are the sort of people we need," he maintained, adding that he had several affected contractors in his constituency who were mulling a move abroad to avoid the extra tax.
On the issue of encryption, Whittingdale said that the Tories would "examine and scrutinise" any plans to toughen legislation put forward by the Government. While supporting the fight against terrorism, he said that "if it means measures to decrypt email, we will have to look at that".
Increased security measures must not damage "the huge law-abiding majority who rely on technology", he concluded.
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