Telecoms Supply Chain Review

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:11 pm on 22nd July 2019.

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Photo of Alan Brown Alan Brown Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Transport), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Energy) 6:11 pm, 22nd July 2019

It is now three months since the national security leak that confirmed that the Government were split over allowing any Huawei involvement in the 5G network, yet it is clear that the Government are still prevaricating, while the US and Australia have been quite vocal about their concerns about the UK Government’s approach. The reality is that this statement is just a lot of words to confirm further delay. Why are the decisions now being left in the gift of the new Prime Minister? Is this just another case of putting the Tory party before the country?

When we will learn the proper definitions of core and non-core network? What happens if there is a legal challenge to the definitions? Would an outright ban not simply be more robust and effective? Further, if the Government continue to progress down the route of identifying core and non-core network, what controls and oversights will there be to ensure that there is no technological solution that allows Huawei to retrieve any data from the core network, if it is allowed to be involved in future?

What assessment has been made of the existing contracts that Huawei has, including its involvement in EE’s existing 5G roll-out to seven cities across the UK? Does not the existence of those contracts show how far behind the curve the UK Government are in taking action? It is a bit too late to be using the word “urgency”. How long will it be before the proposed telecoms security requirements are in statute, given the failures that have been identified? When will guidance be published for the voluntary code that the Secretary of State referred to? What will the Government do to create the desired diversification policy that was outlined in the statement?

Another Chinese company with security risks is ZTE. Have the Government made any risk assessments about the fact that ZTE has been picked to construct a 5G network in Jersey? What is the current status of ZTE’s partnership with BT, and has that been reviewed? Have there been wider Cabinet discussions on Chinese involvement in Hinkley Point C and the reliance on Chinese development to get the station operational? What security risks does that pose? Does this not show that the Government need much more of a bigger-picture approach, rather than the silo approach that is happening at present?