Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Code rights in respect of land connected to leased premises

Part of Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Bill – in the House of Commons at 3:58 pm on 10th March 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Chi Onwurah Chi Onwurah Shadow Minister (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Industrial Strategy) 3:58 pm, 10th March 2020

We have had a very interesting and at times lively debate. On Third Reading, I would say that this Bill gives us baby steps towards rolling out the infrastructure that so many millions across this country are in desperate need of—full-fibre broadband infrastructure. This is no time for the Government to be patting themselves on the back. This is a mediocre Bill that, in addition, risks being derailed by the Government’s failure to take a longer-term view on our national networks, full-fibre, 5G and more. In terms of the Secretary of State’s responses, we will take forward the reassurances on tenants and hold the Government to account. Tenants should be able to access the provisions of this legislation. I fear that the Government do not understand the basis or need for competitive infrastructure, because the Bill does not support competitive access to multiple-dwelling units. We will hold the Government to account on that. We will also hold them to account on the assurances given on information and better dissemination of digital skills and digital guidance.

The big Huawei hole in which the Government find themselves has not been reconciled by today’s debate. The Secretary of State promised several things, including a new telecoms security Bill, but he could not give us any of the details. He promised a diversification strategy but, to be clear, that was the basis of the telecoms supply chain review report in July 2019, and we would hope that there would be some detail on what that strategy is. The Budget is tomorrow. Will we see funding for significant investment in the diversification of the supply chain that the Secretary of State promised?

Will we get greater clarity on what the diversification strategy is leading to? Is it leading to non-dependence on high-risk vendors within this Parliament or at some unspecified date in the future? We have heard little on the industrial strategy that will make diversification possible. Are we talking about UK capacity to deliver 5G and 6G in future networks, or are we talking about greater support for Japanese and Korean companies to enter our supply chain? Will the timetable for this diversification strategy be on the face of the telecoms security Bill?

Those questions all remain to be answered. It is an indictment of this Government’s support for our national security—and the clarity of that support for our national security—that at this stage so many Conservative Members feel it necessary to vote against their own Government, in order to press home the needs of our national security and, specifically, our technological capability in the key areas of 5G, 6G and future telecommunications. We are told that, in network design, it is always important to design in the possibility of breach, but the Government seem to be designing in breach of our entire network system.