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Volume 569: debated on Wednesday 30 October 2013

We have committed an additional £210 million to the national cyber-security programme for 2015-16, underlining our commitment to tackling cyber threats. This year, we have launched the cyber-security information-sharing partnership and increased specialist capability in police forces, and we are currently setting up UKCERT, the national computer emergency response team.

Following the Snowden leaks in the US, where a contractor working for Booz Allen was able to cause untold damage to US and international intelligence services, what steps is the Minister taking to put in place restrictions on contractors and staff vis-à-vis access to this programme?

My hon. Friend has taken a close interest in this matter and made some extremely robust and helpful comments. We take contractor security extremely seriously, and following this breach, which took place in the United States, we are obviously redoubling our efforts to ensure that it is as secure as it can be.

When assessing the leaks from Edward Snowden and the reporting by newspapers, including The Guardian, will the Minister and the Government take clear account of the statement from President Barack Obama last week that some of the activities of the National Security Agency in the US raised legitimate questions for friends and allies?

I hear what the hon. Gentleman says, but I would just like to make this point about GCHQ: it comprises very, very dedicated, hard-working Crown servants who do incredibly valuable work to protect our safety and security every day of the week, and they deserve solid support from right across the Chamber and from both Front Benches. I hope that that will be made absolutely clear.

The Government are rightly trying to tighten up on British cyber-security. Does the Minister share my concern that anybody who weakens encryption methods or puts in back doors exposes us all to greater risk?

My hon. Friend is very knowledgeable on this subject, and everything he says about it must be taken extremely seriously. Yes, there is a point there to which we need to have proper regard.

According to the Government’s own figures, 87% of small businesses experienced a cyber-security breach last year and were attacked, on average, 17 times, yet more than four fifths of the Government’s cyber-security budget goes on the intelligence services, big business and government, leaving small businesses and consumers to fend for themselves. Now we learn that the Minister has set up his own wi-fi network in the Cabinet Office to bypass all that expensive security. When will he stand up for small businesses and consumers and get a grip on cyber-security?

I am glad to say that the most recent rankings of countries in relation to cyber-security had the UK in top position, but we are not at all complacent; much more needs to be done. The hon. Lady is very interested in the wi-fi arrangements in my office, which were installed by the Cabinet Office IT supplier and are fully compliant. We take all this extremely seriously, but the threats are changing all the time and we need to be agile in how we respond to them.