Below is the text of the statement made by Matt Warman, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, in the House of Commons on 27 January 2020.
I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Tonbridge and Malling (Tom Tugendhat) for this question. I know he has a deep interest in this issue, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has corresponded with him about it over the past few months. She will address this issue herself in the other place later today.
New telecoms technologies and next-generation networks like 5G and full fibre can change our lives for the better. They can give us the freedom to live and work more freely, help rural communities to develop thriving digital economies, and help socially isolated people to maintain relationships, so the security and resilience of the UK’s telecoms networks is of paramount importance. The UK has one of the world’s most dynamic digital economies, and we welcome open trade and inward investment. However, our economy can prosper and unleash Britain’s potential only when we and our international partners are assured that our critical national infrastructure remains safe and secure.
As part of our mission to provide world-class digital connectivity, including 5G, my Department carried out a cross-Whitehall evidence-based review of the telecoms supply chain to ensure a diverse and secure supply base. That review’s findings were published in July 2019 and set out the Government’s priorities for the future of our telecommunications. Those priorities are strong cyber-security across the entire telecommunications sector, greater resilience in telecommunications networks and diversity across the entire 5G supply chain. It considered the UK’s entire market position, including economic prosperity, the industry and consumer effects, and the quality, resilience and security of equipment.
However, in July, the review did not take a decision on the controls to be placed on high-risk vendors in the UK’s telecoms network. Despite the inevitable focus on Huawei, that review was not about one company or even one country. We would never take a decision that threatens our national security or the security of our allies. The Government’s telecoms supply chain review is a thorough review into a complex area that made use of the best available expert advice and evidence, and its conclusions on high-risk vendors will be reported once ministerial decisions have been taken.
The National Security Council will meet tomorrow to discuss these issues. This work is an important step in strengthening the UK’s security frameworks for telecoms and ensuring the roll-out of 5G and full-fibre networks. I know that Members on both sides of the House feel strongly about this issue, and the Government will make a statement to the House to communicate final decisions on high-risk vendors at the appropriate time. We will always put national security at the top of our agenda.