Debates between Lord McNally and Baroness Morgan of Cotes during the 2019-2024 Parliament

Huawei: UK’s 5G Network

Debate between Lord McNally and Baroness Morgan of Cotes
Monday 27th January 2020

(4 years, 5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Morgan of Cotes Portrait Baroness Morgan of Cotes
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I thank the noble Lord very much for his measured response on this issue. Obviously I cannot assure him that everything he hopes for tomorrow will be answered, but I certainly expect to come back to this place with an update for this House, and my colleagues will do that in the other place as well. I join the noble Lord in saying that I think a decision on this matter, should a decision be taken tomorrow—I am sure that noble Lords who have been in government or worked with government will understand that I do not want to get ahead of myself in saying that the decision will be taken—will be welcomed.

The noble Lord is right to say, and I think Members of this House will agree, that improving connectivity across the UK is very important for all residents. He is right to say that the rollout of 5G is already taking place and that those involved in that rollout obviously need guidance and a government view on who to involve in it. While I made it very clear in the Answer that this is not just about one company, Huawei is of course already involved in the 4G rollout. I am hesitant to say as a new Member of this House “Watch this space”, but I am afraid that that is probably going to be the basis of my answers today.

Lord McNally Portrait Lord McNally (LD)
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My Lords, this is an extraordinary Statement, not least the part that states:

“The National Security Council will meet tomorrow to discuss these issues.”


Then why make a Statement today?

Is the Minister aware that we, like everyone in this House, always put national security at the top of our agenda? However, to claim that despite the inevitable focus on Huawei this review is not about one company or even one country becomes a little difficult to swallow, given all the air traffic around about the activities of the US Government to influence our Government’s decision. I therefore want to make sure that the Government are sticking by the advice they are getting from their security services and their own best-informed sources? We must recognise that we have to decide whether this is a decision about “America First” or about our own best interests. This is supposed to be the golden age of co-operation between the UK and China across a wide range of issues. We have to be able to make security decisions in our way and in our national interest while protecting those wider interests.

Baroness Morgan of Cotes Portrait Baroness Morgan of Cotes
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I thank the noble Lord. In the interests of time, I will say briefly that I am having to give this Answer today because an Urgent Question was asked in the other place so quite rightly we are answering that in both Houses. I agree with him that it is quite correct that it is the UK Government who are taking this decision. There are a number of factors in making such a decision. We will rely on the best expert advice from our services that we have, but we will make the decision as a Government in the interests of this country.

Digital Inclusion

Debate between Lord McNally and Baroness Morgan of Cotes
Thursday 23rd January 2020

(4 years, 6 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Morgan of Cotes Portrait Baroness Morgan of Cotes
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One of the briefs I received in preparing for these questions said that answers should be short, so the noble Lord can be assured that my answer will not be 25 minutes long—it may be 25 words long. He is absolutely right to say that digital inclusion matters particularly for those accessing government benefits and services, as I know from my service in the Commons and from supporting constituents in accessing universal credit. I mentioned access through libraries, but there is also access through job centres, and citizens advice bureaux provide a service to support people who have never been online. Colleagues in the Department for Work and Pensions take this very seriously, because there is obviously no point in providing support for people if they find they cannot access it or update their records.

Lord McNally Portrait Lord McNally (LD)
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My Lords, I too welcome the Secretary of State, who has now made more comebacks than Frank Sinatra. I hope she will be there long enough to follow the parallel to the ICO code, which was the work of this House and of the noble Baroness, Lady Kidron, in particular. Will she support my paving Bill for a duty of care on online harms, which will allow Ofcom to get ahead with preparation for such legislation?

Baroness Morgan of Cotes Portrait Baroness Morgan of Cotes
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I thank the noble Lord. He will be pleased to know that since my singing voice is nothing like Frank Sinatra’s, I will not inflict it on your Lordships’ House. I was very interested to read about his Bill. As he will know, the Government have done a significant amount of work on the online harms space, and I hope we will be able to work together. The Government intend to develop legislation, so while I might not support his Bill, I think we can absolutely make common cause on this very important issue.