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Volume 515: debated on Monday 13 September 2010

Cyber-security is an important element of the SDSR and has already had considerable consideration. Decisions on enhancing our capabilities will form part of the review, which we will announce to the House later this autumn.

Can my right hon. Friend tell the House how much interdepartmental co-operation there is on these issues, which remain a very serious, if invisible, threat to the United Kingdom, and one that the MOD should not have to shoulder on its own?

I entirely agree with the sentiments at the end of my hon. Friend’s question. Indeed, this is a cross-governmental problem, and it is one of the matters in which there is a huge advantage from dealing with it under the National Security Council because that means we are able to consider it in a cross-governmental manner. It would be quite wrong if the enhancements to cyber-security that protected all of government were to fall only on parts of it. It therefore makes sense to look at the concept of how we approach it both on a budgetary and a functional basis.

If we are to develop an effective cyber-security policy and to think forward, we must also invest in research and development. Will the Minister give a commitment to ensuring that as part of the defence and security review there will be sufficient capacity for research and development, particularly on cyber-security?

Investing in better cyber-security will not be an “option” for the United Kingdom. What is being considered under the National Security Council as part of the SDSR is how that occurs. We will face increasing threats in cyberspace in the years ahead—the question is how we identify the weakest areas, which need to be looked at first, and how we develop the technologies so that, as the other technologies that might affect us continue to evolve, we are best protected. That will require us to look at research across the board.