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House of Commons Hansard
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24 April 2019
Volume 658
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3. What steps his Department is taking to help improve the cyber security of public and private sector organisations. [910473]

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While the Government can manage and have been managing the security risk, it is essential that the cyber-security and engineering flaws in Huawei products are fixed. The National Cyber Security Centre has set out the improvements we expect the company to make and will not compromise on the improvements we need to see, in particular sustained evidence of better software engineering and cyber-security.

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Will the Minister update the House on the distinction the Government make between different types of infrastructure equipment from Huawei, and how that will be used to respond to the centre’s recommendations?

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We have the independent Huawei cyber-security evaluation centre to look at what the company is doing to meet the commitments we require of it. Looking to the future, the Government are committed to taking decisions on the 5G supply chain based on evidence and a hard-headed assessment of the risk. We have undertaken a thorough review of that supply chain; the decisions based on that review will be announced in due course, and to this House first.

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Given the concerns about Huawei’s involvement in our 5G network, what more can the right hon. Gentleman say about the steps the Government are taking to secure our critical national information infrastructure?

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From the Government’s point of view, the security and resilience of the UK’s telecoms networks are of paramount importance. We think we have robust procedures in place to manage any risks to national security today. Looking forward to the roll-out of 5G, we have three clear priorities: stronger cyber-security practices across the entire telecoms sector, greater resilience within individual telecoms networks, and—crucially—diversity in the supply chain for 5G. These are matters that go beyond any single company.

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The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster will know that the Government are about to award a £300 million contract including requirements to host British citizens’ biometric data. To protect the security and privacy of British citizens, can he guarantee that that data will not be held by foreign companies subject to foreign Government laws giving foreign Government access to British citizens’ private data?

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Clearly, any tendering exercise that the Government undertake has to be subject to the normal rules on open public procurement, but I know that the Home Secretary, who is responsible for the proposed database, will give the highest priority to ensuring the security of that sensitive personal data.

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It has been reported that the Prime Minister has given Huawei the green light to help to build the UK’s 5G network, against the advice of Ministers, our international allies and our security services, yet Huawei has itself said that it will take up to five years to secure its equipment. Why do the Government have more confidence than Huawei has in its ability to build our 5G network safely and securely?

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As I said in response to the hon. Member for Barnsley Central (Dan Jarvis), the security and resilience of our telecommunications networks are of paramount importance in every decision the Government take on these matters. We have undertaken a thorough review of the entire 5G supply chain, which is designed to ensure that we can roll out 5G in a secure and resilient way. We will announce our decisions about that to this House in due course.