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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 3:15 pm on 10th March 2020.

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Photo of Bob Seely Bob Seely Conservative, Isle of Wight 3:15 pm, 10th March 2020

My hon. Friend makes an extremely good point, which I will come to. Does Huawei enable a multiplayer market? No, it does not. It probably destroys a multiplayer market, for the reasons given.

Huawei is becoming the vehicle by which China, through peaceful means, seeks to have considerable leverage in the critical national infrastructure of not only the United Kingdom but of any other western nations that are foolish and unwise enough to agree to let in a “high-risk vendor”, to use the Government’s own definition. In the next 10 to 20 years, the remaining western players will be put out of business, and, as my hon. Friend says, our 6G and 7G will be dependent on a country that we do not know we can trust and whose economic players are, by our own Government’s definition, “high-risk vendors”.

Huawei’s credit line is to the tune of $100 billion—that sounds a bit like Austin Powers. It can simply undercut anything that anybody else offers, to aggressively stay in the market. That, combined with its intense lobbying operation in this country, including John Suffolk, Andrew Cahn and others, puts it at an advantage to drive other people out of business.

Are there alternatives? Yes. Orange in France is building a 5G network with Ericsson and Nokia. In this country, O2 does not yet use Huawei. If the Secretary of State would be interested in saying anything on the emergency services network, we would be very interested in hearing that, because we do not think that the emergency services network should have a high-risk vendor in it. The US, Vietnam, South Korea, Japan and Australia are planning or building 5G networks.

Why has all this happened? This sorry state was reported in Sir Malcolm Rifkind’s Intelligence and Security Committee report in 2013. He found a miserable set of circumstances in which Government officials or civil servants had allowed Huawei into the system without telling Ministers. When Ministers found out that Huawei was in the system, they did not do anything about it. That, combined with an extensive lobbying operation and cut-price deals, has driven Huawei into its position in the market now.

What should we do? Well, let us have a debate—I hope that this is the beginning of one—as Australia and other countries have. I believe that, working with our Five Eyes and other partners—NATO and the European Union—we should lead. There is an opportunity now for the Secretary of State and Ministers to lead on this debate and to agree a common formula for a trusted vendor status, so we know that the people in our system are competent and safe. My right hon. and hon. Friends have made various points about the wider issue of the cleanliness of that—primary contractors are one thing, but if they are buying kit from China, the question is whether that is compromised, and it may well be. We need to find a way to organise the security of our audit process for 5G. We also have to agree a trusted vendor status when it comes to the Bill that will be put before us in June, and I look forward very much to the Government doing so.