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UK Telecommunications

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:08 pm on 28th January 2020.

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Photo of Dominic Raab Dominic Raab The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs 3:08 pm, 28th January 2020

I thank the hon. Gentleman for the considered questions he raises. He is right to do so. We have looked at this issue very carefully. He expressed concern about delay, but I think it was absolutely right that, on such a sensitive decision with such a range of complex considerations, from commercial and infrastructure to security, we took the time to get this right. He called for an objective and rigorous analysis; that is precisely what has gone into this decision through the telecoms supply chain review, the analysis of the National Cyber Security Centre, and the other work that has been done, including by the Huawei cyber security evaluation centre oversight board. As a result, we have a greater level of insight into the challenges and the opportunities relating to 5G—in particular the challenges in relation to high-risk vendors—than any jurisdiction in the world.

The hon. Gentleman asked about intelligence considerations. GCHQ has confirmed categorically that how we construct our 5G and full-fibre public telecoms networks has nothing to do with how we will share classified data. Intelligence sharing will not be put at risk—and will never be put at risk by this Government. It is worth saying that high-risk vendors never have been, and never will be, in our most sensitive networks. He will have heard the public remarks by Andrew Parker, the head of MI5, who said that he has no reason to think the UK’s intelligence-sharing relationship with the US will be impacted, and that the Five Eyes intelligence relationship was the strongest they have ever seen.

The hon. Gentleman asked a range of other questions. The reality is that the decision we are taking today allows us to build on what will be one of the toughest regimes in the world, protecting, and providing the right balance on the protection of, our 5G infrastructure. As I set out in the statement, the Government recognise the imperative to diversify supply. That will involve UK operators making sure that more challengers can come into the market place. It could well involve—this is something we will want to look at—international co-operation with like-minded, close partners, so that we avoid ever having that shortfall of competition and diversity of supply in this country.

The hon. Gentleman referred to the ambitious delivery of the 5G network and full-fibre broadband. That is precisely why we had to undertake rigorous analysis and take the time to get the decision right, and why it is so important to take the right decision, which is what the Government are doing today.

Finally, the hon. Gentleman asked about enforcement. The initial approach will be through guidance, as I explained in my statement. We are committed to bringing forward legislation as soon as possible, but we will make sure we have the robust enforcement to go with the rigorous regime that I set out.