Following George Osborne’s announcement last week that the Government will launch a new Cyber Innovation Centre in Cheltenham as well as giving intelligence agencies increased funding, Cheltenham's MP, Alex Chalk, made clear that he wants this extra funding to benefit Cheltenham businesses as well as national security.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Cheltenham’s man in Westminster said:
‘Can I warmly welcome the Chancellor’s announcement of a boost in funding for our Security Services, who do so much unsung work to keep us safe. Does he agree with me that the creation of a Cyber Innovation Centre in Cheltenham will now mean that those extra tax payer funds will enhance not just our national security- they will boost private sector jobs and opportunity too?’
The Chancellor agreed with Mr Chalk, noting that, ‘With local businesses that are growing cyber-business in Cheltenham [we are] making sure that GCHQ is not just a source of jobs in the public sector in Cheltenham but jobs in the private sector. The new cyber innovation centre and the work we are going to do in Cheltenham will only go from strength to strength’.
This comes just two days after Mr Chalk asked the Prime Minister in the House of Commons to ‘confirm that he will press on with legislation to ensure that, underpinned by judicial oversight, [security and intelligence agencies] have the powers as well as the resources to protect our country’. David Cameron commended the work of GCHQ and recognised the Cheltenham based agency as ‘an amazing national resource’ of which the country ‘should be very proud’. The Prime Minister also reassured Mr Chalk that the security and intelligence agencies will have the powers and resources they need, adding that he believes that this Government will ‘double the amount of money we put into cyber by the end of this Parliament’.
Creating a local tech hub here in Cheltenham is a vision Alex Chalk has long championed. This initiative will help create what he has called for: a digital ecosystem in Cheltenham in which the UK's top cyber experts move in and out of institutions like GCHQ, bringing the best minds and deepest expertise into the private sector, and the latest innovation back into government. It will support the cyber start-ups of the future and bring jobs, investment and opportunity to the town.