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Code rights in respect of land connected to leased premises

Part of Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Bill – in the House of Commons at 1:13 pm on 10th March 2020.

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Photo of Chi Onwurah Chi Onwurah Shadow Minister (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Industrial Strategy) 1:13 pm, 10th March 2020

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his proposed support. He raises another important point, which I will address immediately. First, we do not want to think that the involvement of Chinese companies in our network infrastructure is necessarily an unmanageable security risk—I am choosing my words very carefully— but we do believe that it represents a risk. We believe that because that is what our security services say. The National Cyber Security Centre has designated Huawei as a high-risk vendor. That is why it set up the Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre. I thank the NCSC for meeting me and for giving the Opposition a detailed security briefing. I have also sought advice from industry experts.

As Jonathan Edwards suggested, tearing Huawei out of our networks—to be clear, Huawei is already present in our networks, it is in different positions in the networks and it is in different networks but particularly in 4G, which is the platform for 5G—would mean significant costs and delays: Mobile UK, the trade organisation for the mobile industry, estimates that it would cost £7 billion and delay 5G by 18 months. The telecoms supply chain review, which was published in July, set out the ways in which the risks could be managed and mitigated. In reporting on that review to the House, the Government made several promises around diversifying the supply chain and putting in place a regulator with strong enforcement powers. Seven months later, we have heard nothing. In July, the Government promised to legislate at the earliest possible opportunity. Well, now is that opportunity.

As the Government have refused to put in place any legislation or even to share plans—or plans for plans—we are taking matters into our own hands, hence our amendment 4, which would prevent operators taking advantage of the provisions of the Bill if they were using high-risk vendors in their deployment. It would effectively mean that the reach of high-risk vendors would not be allowed to grow as a result of this legislation. The legislation is narrow; our amendment reflects that narrowness, but seeks to prevent high-risk vendors from having an increased foothold in our networks as a consequence of this legislation.