Telecommunications (Security) Bill - Second Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 2:56 pm on 29 June 2021.

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Photo of Lord Maxton Lord Maxton Labour 2:56, 29 June 2021

My Lords, I hope to be very brief. We ought to remember three things. First, our lives are very short—although I am 85—in comparison with the 300 years of the Industrial Revolution. Secondly, that is 0.1% of Homo sapiens’ existence on this world. Thirdly, the world is much older still. Is the Minister assured that the development of innovation that is part and parcel of what we want to see over the next few years is going to continue, or is this going to be a block on the continuation of that?

More importantly, much of what Ofcom deals with is international, not national. Therefore, it is going to be much more difficult to respond to an entitlement of that nature internationally than nationally. It is easy to deal with four or five companies that deal with telecommunications within this country, but it is not so easy to deal with them internationally, particularly with Facebook and Twitter and all the other things that go with that. I have no idea where they come from. Does anybody know where they come from? Netflix is a massive organisation, now producing more than the BBC, but where does it come from? Where exactly is it, in terms of telecommunications generally? Amazon Prime—again, where does it come from? I pay my bill to Amazon Prime regularly, but where on earth do I pay it to? Where does it go?

I suggest three things: first, that we deal with the international issue; secondly, that we deal with the issue that I raised to start with; and thirdly—more importantly—that we ask whether our democratic system keeping up with the improvements in science and technology that are happening around the world at present. Yes, in 1820, two-thirds of people in Britain lived below the level of absolute poverty. Now, the United Nations is talking about abolishing that term because that level no longer exists. Poverty exists, of course, but absolute poverty does not exist. On vaccines, even in the present crisis, the number of people who are vaccinated now is higher than in the past. The number of people who can read and write is also higher. So, why are we not tackling the problem of changing our constitution to ensure that we keep up with the scientific and technological improvements happening around the world?