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Written Statements

Volume 670: debated on Tuesday 28 January 2020

Written Statements

Tuesday 28 January 2020

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

UK Telecommunications

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Baroness Morgan of Cotes, has made the following statement.

The telecoms supply chain review—laid before Parliament in July 2019—underlined the range and nature of the risks facing our critical digital infrastructure.

The review addressed three questions:

How should telecoms operators be incentivised to improve security standards and practices in 5G and full fibre networks?

How should the security challenges posed by high risk vendors be addressed?

How can sustainable diversity in the telecoms supply chain be created?

The Government are establishing one of the strongest regimes for telecoms security in the world. This will raise security standards across the UK’s telecoms operators and the vendors that supply them. At the heart of the new regime will be the National Cyber Security Centre’s Telecoms Security Requirements guidance. This will raise the height of the security bar and set out tough new standards to be met in the design and operation of the UK’s telecoms networks.

The Government intend to legislate, at the earliest opportunity, to introduce a new comprehensive telecoms security regime—to be overseen by the communications sector regulator, Ofcom, and Government.

The review also underlined the need for the UK to improve diversity in the supply of equipment to telecoms networks.

The Government are developing an ambitious strategy to help diversify the supply chain. This will entail the deployment of all the tools at the Government’s disposal. The strategy has three main strands:

Attracting established vendors who are not currently present in the UK;

supporting the emergence of new, disruptive entrants to the supply chain; and

promoting the adoption of open, interoperable standards that will reduce barriers to entry.

The UK’s telecoms operators are leading the world in the adoption of new, innovative approaches to expand the supply chain. The Government will work with industry and like-minded countries to achieve these goals.

The third area covered by the review was how to treat those vendors which pose greater security and resilience risks to UK telecoms.

The Government have now completed their consideration of all the information and analysis on this subject, and are publishing the final conclusions of the telecoms supply chain review in relation to high risk vendors.

In order to assess a vendor as high risk, the review recommends a set of objective factors are taken into account. These include:

The strategic position or scale of the vendor in the UK network;

the strategic position or scale of the vendor in other telecoms networks, particularly if the vendor is new to the UK market;

the quality and transparency of the vendor’s engineering practices and cyber security controls;

the vendor’s resilience both in technical terms and in relation to the continuity of supply to UK operators;

the vendor’s domestic security laws in the jurisdiction where the vendor is based and the risk of external direction that conflicts with UK law;

the relationship between the vendor and the vendor’s domestic state apparatus; and

the availability of offensive cyber capability by that domestic state apparatus, or associated actors, that might be used to target UK interests.

To ensure the security of 5G and full fibre networks, it is both necessary and proportionate to place tight restrictions on the presence of any vendors that are identified as higher risk.

For 5G and full fibre networks, the review concluded that, based on the current position of the UK market, high risk vendors should be:

Excluded from all safety related and safety critical networks in critical national infrastructure;

excluded from security critical network functions;

limited to a minority presence in other network functions to a cap of up to 35%; and

subjected to tight restrictions, including exclusions from sensitive geographic locations.

These new controls will also be contingent on an NCSC-approved risk mitigation strategy for any operator using such a vendor.

Over time, our intention is for the market share of high risk vendors to reduce as market diversification takes place.

The Government intend to bring forward legislation, at the earliest opportunity, to limit and control the presence of high risk vendors in UK networks, and to be able to respond appropriately as technology changes.

Nothing in the review’s conclusions affects this country’s ability to share highly sensitive intelligence data over highly secure networks, both within the UK and with our partners, including the Five Eyes.

GCHQ have categorically confirmed that how the UK constructs its 5G and full fibre public telecoms networks has nothing to do with how the Government share classified data.

In response to the review, the Government have asked the National Cyber Security Centre to produce guidance for industry in relation to high risk vendors. The guidance sets out how NCSC will determine whether a vendor is high risk, the precise restrictions it advises should be applied to high risk vendors in the UK’s 5G and full fibre networks, and what mitigation measures operators should take if using high risk vendors.

The NCSC has published that guidance on their website at: www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/ncsc-advice-on-the-use-of-equipment-from-high-risk-vendors-in-uk-telecoms-networks, as well as a summary of the security analysis conducted for the telecoms supply chain review at: www.ncsc.gov.uk/report/summary-of-NCSC-security-analysis-for-the-UK-telecoms-sector.

The DCMS press release accompanying this written ministerial statement can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-plans-to-safeguard-countrys-telecoms-network-and-pave-way-for-fast-reliable-and-secure-connectivity.

Copies of these documents have been placed in the House of Commons Library.

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Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Foreign Affairs Council: 20 January 2020

The High Representative of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HRVP), Josep Borrell, chaired the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) in Brussels on 20 January. The United Kingdom’s permanent representative to the EU (Sir Tim Barrow) represented the United Kingdom.

Current affairs

The HRVP and Foreign Ministers had an exchange of views on a number of pressing issues.

The German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas briefed on the outcome of the 19 January Berlin conference on Libya. Ministers discussed EU engagement towards a political solution, in particular in helping to implement the agreed ceasefire and enforce the UN arms embargo.

HRVP Borrell discussed the situation in Bolivia and set out EU support towards the general election on 3 May 2020. He also touched on Venezuela and concern about recent escalations following the events in the National Assembly.

The HRVP debriefed on his recent trip to New Delhi, India, where he participated in the Raisina dialogue and he discussed preparations for the upcoming 15th EU-India summit, scheduled for 13 March.

Cyprus raised Turkey’s hydrocarbon exploration activity in the eastern Mediterranean, following Turkey’s announcement on 18 January that it would engage in further drilling.

Sahel

Following France’s and the G5 Sahel (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger) leaders’ summit that took place in Pau on 13 January, Ministers exchanged views on the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in the Sahel and the role the EU could play as an important partner and donor in the region. They expressed support for renewing the existing Sahel strategy to try to increase the impact of the EU's security, stability and development engagement. Ministers emphasised the importance of an integrated approach between the different actors involved and resources deployed. Ministers also welcomed the planned EU-G5 Sahel summit in March, noting it would be an opportunity to identify joint priorities and ensure G5 ownership.

Climate diplomacy

The Council adopted conclusions on climate diplomacy and agreed to focus diplomatic outreach to third countries to encourage key partners and emitters to implement concrete actions and achieve the best results ahead of COP26. There was support for a proposal that all new EU international agreements, including all trade agreements, contain a clause to hold partners to ambitious climate standards.

The United Kingdom underlined that success in Glasgow would rely on concerted diplomatic efforts and the importance of ensuring tangible outcomes when updating nationally defined contributions (NDCs).

Middle east peace process and the wider region

Over lunch, Foreign Ministers discussed the middle east peace process and restated their national positions on the recognition of Palestine. The United Kingdom underlined the importance of firmly rejecting illegal annexation but made clear that our position on recognition was unchanged and reiterated our commitment to a two-state solution.

Ministers touched on the future of the joint comprehensive plan of action (JCPoA) and the importance of continuing efforts to de-escalate tensions in the region. The United Kingdom, France and Germany underlined the importance of the E3’s work to find a diplomatic path through the JCPOA’s dispute resolution mechanism to bring Iran back into compliance and preserve the deal.

Council conclusions

The Council agreed a number of further measures:

The Council approved the terms of reference for the EU-Ecuador dialogue on human rights. Since 2014, the EU and Ecuador meet at least once a year to review the state of their relationship and discuss issues of common interest.

The Council adopted conclusions on the continued presence of Operation Althea in Bosnia and Herzegovina to support authorities in maintaining a safe and secure environment for its citizens.

The Council adopted a decision on the conclusion of the enhanced partnership and co-operation agreement between the EU and the Republic of Kazakhstan (12409/16). The decision will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union in accordance with Article 17 (1)(a) of the Council's rules of procedure.

The Council appointed 120 members and 114 alternate members to the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) for its new five-year term running from 26 January 2020 to 25 January 2025 (14986/19).

Regarding public access to documents, the European Council approved on 15 January 2020 the reply to confirmatory application No. 39/c/01/19 (doc. EUCO 35/19). On 20 January 2020, the Council adopted by written procedure the reply to confirmatory application No. 38/C/01/19 (doc. 14533/19).

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Housing, Communities and Local Government

Rough Sleeping Initiative

Today, I am announcing provisional allocations of up to £112 million for a third year of rough sleeping initiative and rapid rehousing pathway funding. This funding covers around 270 local authorities in England, including those that were part of joint funding proposals and represents an uplift of £26 million on last year’s rough sleeping initiative and rapid rehousing pathway funding.

We announced the rough sleeping initiative in March 2018 to make an immediate impact on rough sleeping. Our impact evaluation of the initiative (published September 2019) demonstrated that it drove the first national reduction in rough sleeping in almost a decade. The analysis demonstrated a 32% net reduction in the number of rough sleepers, compared to what the level would have been had the initiative not been in place.

To build on the rough sleeping initiative, we launched the rapid rehousing pathway. This approach includes funding for Somewhere Safe to Stay hubs, which provide warm and dry shelter, rapid assessment, and support to people who are already, or at risk of, sleeping rough; specialist navigators, who act as a single point of contact to support people from the streets into settled accommodation; the establishment of local lettings agencies to source, identify, or provide homes and advice for rough sleepers or those at risk; and funding for supported lettings initiatives, which will provide flexible support to help individuals sustain their tenancies.

For the next financial year we have combined the rough sleeping initiative and rapid rehousing pathway to form one consolidated funding pot for 2020-21, to simplify the process for local authorities. We have drawn on learnings from both programmes to optimise the effectiveness of next year’s funding, which was open to all local authorities in England. Since October 2019 our expert adviser teams have worked intensively with local authorities to co-produce plans to further reduce rough sleeping.

A full list of the areas funded is available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/rough-sleeping-initiative-2020-to-2021-funding-allocations. id="32WS" class="column-number" data-column-number="32WS">

With the funding I have announced today, local areas will be able to enhance services that connect people with the right support and sustainable housing to move them swiftly away from the street and facilitate their recovery. This important work is part of delivering on the commitment made in the Government manifesto to end rough sleeping by the end of this Parliament.

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