Government defeats Tory rebellion in Commons Huawei vote
An amendment that would have guaranteed the removal of the Chinese vendor’s kit by 2023 was not passed
Credit: CROFT MALCOLM CROFT/PA Archive/PA Images
An attempt by rebel Conservative MPs to ensure Huawei kit is removed from the UK’s 5G infrastructure within two years was squashed by the government.
Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith yesterday tabled an amendment to the government’s Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill that stipulated that Huawei – and any other companies deemed to be “high-risk vendors” – would no longer be used in the 5G network from the beginning of 2023.
As it stands, Huawei will be allowed to supply technology for use in what the government characterises as the “periphery” of the next-generation network. Its technology will not be permitted to comprise more than 35% of this section of the infrastructure, and the percentage figure will be reviewed periodically and may be reduced “as the market diversifies”.
- Defence committee launches probe into Huawei and 5G security
- Conservatives warn PM that Huawei decision ‘leaves UK utterly friendless’
- Donald Trump ‘apoplectic’ with Boris Johnson over Huawei ‘betrayal’, report claims
The amendment voted on by MPs yesterday would have enshrined in legislation a commitment to bring the figure down to 0%, and a timeline for doing so. Duncan Smith’s introduction of the amendment was backed by 25 other Conservatives, including former Cabinet ministers David Davis and Damian Green. Other supporters included Tom Tugendhat, Damian Collins, Mark Francois, and Graham Brady.
When it was put to a vote, a total of 38 Tory MPs backed the amendment. This was enough to significantly narrow the government’s majority – but not enough for the amendment to pass. It was defeated by 306 votes to 282. The Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill has now completed its third reading in the Commons, and will presently move up to House of Lords for further debate.
Following yesterday’s vote, digital secretary Oliver Dowden sought to reassure the rebel MPs with a pledge to bring forward a separate “telecoms security bill” in the coming months. This legislation would address their fears over Huawei, he said.
“The concerns of [those who supported the amendment] have been clearly heard and understood,” Dowden said. “[They] can be dealt with in the telecoms security bill, but ahead of that, in recognition of those concerns, we already setting set out a pathway. First, we have made clear our intention to reduce our reliance on high-risk vendors as… diversification takes place.”
He added: “Further, we have said we want to get to the position where we do not have to use them at all, which gives a sense of the clear end point and trajectory. But we are saying that in order to get from point A to point B, we need to develop capacity, which is why we have said we will work with Five Eyes and other partners to develop this new supply-chain capacity in our critical national infrastructure.”
Matt Warman tells PublicTechnology event that government wants products and services to be secure ‘from the ground up’ – reducing burden on consumers and businesses
PublicTechnology completes our round-up of the most read and significant stories of 2020
Court finds that Matt Hancock broke the law
Changes to legislation in 2017 have not had desired effect
Defence Medical Services (DMS) is pursuing ground-breaking digital, data and technology transformation which will revolutionise Tri-Service healthcare provision to over 135,000 Armed...
Phishing emails are one of the most pernicious threats facing organisations today. If you’ve been leveraging Microsoft 365 and Azure to keep your users productive whilst working remotely, Six...
OneTrust presents the reasons why your organisation should invest in privacy management - and offers three easy tips for getting started
The remote-first world has seen email being relied on more than ever as a core communication mechanism - but with 93% of IT leaders acknowledging a risk to sensitive data, what steps should be...