Safeguarding Military Technology

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons on 20th May 2019.

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Photo of Julia Lopez Julia Lopez Conservative, Hornchurch and Upminster

What discussions she has had with (a) the Department for Education and (b) Five Eyes partners on safeguarding military technology developed in UK universities.

Photo of Stuart Andrew Stuart Andrew Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

It is clearly important that we provide appropriate protection for sensitive research with defence or security applications, whether conducted in our universities or in industry. That is why we work closely with other Government Departments, agencies and international partners to ensure suitably robust arrangements which keep pace with developments in technology and the wider global context.

Photo of Julia Lopez Julia Lopez Conservative, Hornchurch and Upminster

Recent media reports have highlighted increasing concerns about scientists linked to the People’s Liberation Army working in UK universities on research relevant to the development of sensitive military technologies. Does the Minister share that concern? Is he working with universities to mitigate the risk of financial dependency on, or the sharing of sensitive technologies with, China? Will clearer guidance be developed on academic areas deemed relevant to national security?

Photo of Stuart Andrew Stuart Andrew Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

I thank my hon. Friend for raising this very important issue. I can confirm that we work very closely with universities to inform them of the risk posed by military-civilian research fusion. Universities are subject to the UK’s strategic export controls, as is everyone else in the UK, and should consult the Department for International Trade before engaging in any relationships focusing on technology that could have a military application. Further guidance is available on the gov.uk website.