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Volume 642: debated on Monday 11 June 2018

The Ministry of Defence takes cyber-threats very seriously, and we regularly assess our ability to defend against them. We are strengthening our defences against increasingly sophisticated attacks through a wide range of technical, operational and administrative measures, including close co-operation with the National Cyber Security Centre.

I thank the Minister for that answer. Will he clarify how much the Government intend to spend during this Parliament to improve UK cyber-security?

I am grateful for that question as it gives me the opportunity to highlight that we have invested and continue to invest in cyber-capabilities, including with the opening of the defence cyber-school in March, a £40 million investment in a new cyber-security operations capability, and £265 million towards a new cyber-vulnerability investigation programme.

The further east one goes, the greater the awareness of the cyber-threat in individual countries. Lithuania, Estonia, Poland and Sweden have all published advice on how to deal with that threat. What do this Government intend to do to build resilience among the British people and understanding of botnets, hacktivists and all the other ways in which Russia is attacking our political and social institutions?

I think that we are well on our way. The 2015 national security strategy reaffirmed cyber as a top tier 1 risk. That was precisely why we opened the NCSC, which helps to co-ordinate the work of government and the private sector. It is also why we now consider cyber to be essential in our armed forces’ core skills.

The Minister’s reply shows astonishing complacency. We know that cyber-attacks are a key plank of Russia’s hybrid warfare, where fake news, Twitter bots and even ambassadors are used to create confusion, for example regarding the findings of the investigation into MH17. What steps is the Minister taking to educate the British public about the way in which Russia is systematically using our open, democratic, free society to weaken the European Union and to return to a Europe of nation states controlled by spheres of influence?

Frankly, I am staggered that the hon. Lady thinks that £1.9 billion of investment somehow represents complacency from this Government. I have already outlined exactly how the MOD is investing in cyber. In case she has not visited—it would be interesting to know whether she has—let me say that we also have the NCSC, which is only a mile down the road. If she has not been, perhaps she should go to have a look for herself at what the Government are doing to respond to her request.