Cybersecurity and UK Democracy - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords am 8:33 pm ar 26 Mawrth 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Baroness Neville-Rolfe Baroness Neville-Rolfe Minister of State (Cabinet Office) 8:33, 26 Mawrth 2024

I thank the noble Lord for all he does in relation to educating us on China. I cannot agree with everything he says, but I agree with the points he made about debts building up on the belt and road, and the importance of his committee’s report, which I think I will take away with me. I am going to America; I might take it away with me to read and have a fuller look at over Easter.

We have seen China’s continued disregard for universal human rights—in Xinjiang, as well as what the noble Lord mentioned about the stifling of opposition in Hong Kong and, of course, the aggressive behaviour in the South China Sea. He is right to call these points out.

I think that the noble Lord was asking about the foreign influence registration scheme’s enhanced tier, and it is important to remember that all foreign powers, including China, will be subject to the requirements under the political influence tier of FIRS. No country is there yet but the Government are currently considering which foreign powers and entities should be added to the enhanced tier, which requires collective agreement. As you would expect, these considerations will take into account what is necessary to protect the safety and interests of the UK.

The noble Lord was keen to mention the importance of working with allies. I could not agree with him more on that, and it has been pleasing that, in parallel to the UK this week, the United States has made designations. The targeting of parliamentary entities in New Zealand has also been called out, and statements of support have been issued by the European Union, by some individual member states, and by Japan and the Republic of Korea. The Deputy Prime Minister was in Japan and Korea last week trying to do exactly the sort of international co-ordination that is so important, given the borderless nature of many of these threats that we are now facing.

Regarding Hikvision, we are due to produce a report fairly soon, thanks to the noble Lord, and I cannot anticipate that, but I am very aware that when I make promises to him in this House, I take great pleasure in delivering them whenever I can. So that is certainly on the agenda, as is the work we are doing under the Procurement Act to make sure that we make use of the new provisions on security in due course. There has, I think, been some briefings for Lords and MPs from Minister Burghart on that, as he is taking that forward.

Regarding electric cars, obviously we are determined to make sure that the UK remains one of the best locations in the world for auto manufacturing—we have such a long tradition—and that includes the transition to electric vehicles. But, as is standard practice, we must ensure that any investment in UK manufacturing facilities, for any purpose, poses no threat to our national security. We are determined to do just that.