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Volume 706: debated on Thursday 13 January 2022

Our new national cyber-strategy was launched in December. It builds on the previous five-year strategy, which reinforced the UK’s position as a global leader in cyber, second only to the US and China in independent studies. The new strategy sets out how the UK will continue to be a leading, responsible and democratic cyber power, and able to protect and promote our interests. It is supported by £2.6 billion of investment over the next three years.

What further steps is my hon. Friend taking to ensure that the UK’s use of cyber-space enhances the UK’s economic and social prosperity and national security, and ensures a strong, cohesive and resilient society while maintaining our core values of freedom, fairness and the rule of law?

My hon. Friend raises an extremely important point. That is why the strategy sets out a whole of society approach, including a focus on building skills and the highest standards in cyber-security across society. Over the last five years, we have seen the cyber sector grow significantly, with more than 1,400 businesses generating revenues of £8.9 billion last year alone, and supporting 46,700 skilled jobs. That is also why we are targeting key sectors as part of that strategy, such as through the CyberFirst programme, which will ensure that 6,500 pupils from 600 schools can benefit, in particular by attracting girls into that competition so that they are a part of the cyber-strategy.

A cyber-attack last March on the UK Defence Academy was recently reported to have caused significant damage despite ultimately being unsuccessful. Those behind the attack remain unidentified. What measures are the Government considering to improve identification of malicious hackers and impose consequences on them?

That is an extremely important point, and the hon. Lady is right to highlight it to the House. First, that is why we are putting in more funding: £2.6 billion over three years, as opposed to the previous £1.9 billion over five years. On her particular point about deterrence, that funding is outwith the funding provided to the National Cyber Force, which is going into Preston and the north-west as part of our levelling-up agenda. That will have a key role in the deterrence aspects of the risk that she quite rightly identifies.