The Government—I think we all share this objective—would like to get to the point where we do not need any high-risk vendors at all, and we are setting out that process. That said, I want to be candid with hon. Members: I am not today repeating the words of the Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, my hon. Friend the hon. Member for Boston and Skegness (Matt Warman), lest they be misunderstood. We are not today setting out a timetable or date to get to a point where we do not have to rely upon them at all. When we introduce the telecoms security Bill before the summer, hon. Members will have the opportunity to debate this further.
I will make a little more progress and turn my attention to amendment 2. The issue of who is able to request a service from an operator is something that we were conscious of when we were drafting the Bill. As drafted, the Bill, particularly the term “lessee in occupation”, refers to a person who occupies a property under the terms of a lease. For the avoidance of any doubt, this could include assured shorthold tenancy or assured tenancy agreements. It is these types of tenancy agreements that I believe the shadow Minister is seeking to ensure are captured by the Bill, so we will not be supporting that amendment. My concern is that to expand the definition of persons who can make the service request would be disproportionate and potentially undermine a key policy aim of the Bill, which is for operators and landowners to reach agreements between themselves.
The Bill also reflects the fact that the evidence we have received does not suggest that the policy needs to be expanded. I am sure Members will agree that this is a sensible approach that maintains a healthy balance between all parties involved. I hope this clarifies who is likely to be a lessee in occupation and that this satisfies the shadow Minister.
I turn now to my concerns about amendment 3. The Bill aims to support leaseholders to gain access to broadband services from the providers they want. As drafted, the Bill already ensures leaseholders are not locked into services provided by a single provider. Nothing in the Bill prevents a lessee in occupation with an existing gigabit-capable connection from requesting a new service from another alternative provider. That alternative provider will need to give notices to the landowner in line with the electronic communications code. Should that landowner repeatedly fail to respond, that provider could apply for a part 4A order of its own in order to deliver that service. The Government cannot and should not compel independent, commercial companies to alter the way they choose to deliver their services unless there is evidence that a problem exists. Furthermore, far from improving competition and access to services, the amendment might have the unintended consequence of doing the complete opposite. Much of the cost of connecting premises is in the initial installation.
Finally, let me deal with amendment 6. The new connections provided by operators as a result of the Bill will allow greater efficiency and connectivity for consumers and give them an opportunity to benefit fully from certain services including “smart” or internet-connected products, which are often described as the internet of things. The amendment proposes that any operator exercising a part 4A code right must supply provide written information to new customers in the target premises. That would cover best practice on cyber-security in the use of the network connections that have been provided.
I appreciate the sentiment behind amendment 6, and the Government are committed to ensuring that the UK is one of the safest places to be online, but the amendment would impose an additional and disproportionate burden on operators, who may not be best placed to provide consumers with up-to-date information.
The Government have ambitious plans for the roll-out of greater connectivity throughout the United Kingdom, and I can assure the House that in doing so we will never compromise the safety and security of our telecoms networks. Trust in these networks is vital if we are to encourage the take-up of new technologies that will transform our lives for the better.
I have talked at great length to my right hon. Friend the Member for Chingford and Woodford Green and others about our proposals and their amendments. I understand their genuine concerns about the decision taken by the National Security Council and the Government, which was presented to the House about a month ago. I hope that I have given them some comfort, although I accept that it is not all that they have been seeking. I hope I have at least reassured them that the Government appreciate their concerns, and that we are embarking on a path towards the ideal point that we all want to reach where we will have no high-risk vendors. I also hope that they in turn will appreciate that this is not the end of the process but an opportunity for their concerns to be expressed in the amendment, and that the substantial debate will come when we introduce the telecoms security Bill.
Ahead of that, for several weeks—indeed, a few months—there will be the opportunity for intensive engagement in all these issues, including full access to, and scrutiny of, the National Cyber Security Centre and its representatives. I hope that that will enable the House to make progress, but when the Bill is introduced there will of course be huge opportunities for all Members to table appropriate amendments, and the Government will address each one of them.