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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 2:00 pm on 10th March 2020.

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Photo of Liam Fox Liam Fox Conservative, North Somerset 2:00 pm, 10th March 2020

It is essential in this debate that we do not conflate the issues of trade and security. In order to achieve greater trade with China we do not need to sacrifice our national security by including Huawei.

I worked hard as Trade Secretary to improve our trade with China, and getting better Chinese trade is good, not least for bringing millions—billions—of people out of poverty in that country. That is in itself a good thing, but—and it comes with a very large but—it must, as my right hon. Friend Sir Iain Duncan Smith said, come with a rules-based system.

We know that there is an incredible lack of transparency in China about what is in the state sector and what is in the private sector, and Huawei is a classic example of that. The distinctions that we accept in the free-market west are not accepted in the Chinese system, which is why, for example, it is so able to get around some of the pricing constraints that we put in tenders. It is very unclear how investment is funded. While competitors to Huawei such as Samsung have to make very clear to their shareholders how investment is raised and then spent, that transparency does not exist when it comes to Huawei. When I spoke to Samsung about this issue and asked why it was not at the forefront in countries such as the United Kingdom, its answer was, “Well, we have to invest along with the international rules and we have to account to our shareholders and to the law.” These are not things that apply to Huawei, and in any case the way that the tenders were constructed allows a company that lacks transparency such as Huawei always to underbid. If I wanted to get into someone else’s national infrastructure, and I was able to count on ghost state funding to do so, I would certainly take that opportunity. Why would we be surprised that that happens with Huawei?