Amendment 8

National Security Bill - Committee (1st Day) – in the House of Lords at 5:00 pm on 19th December 2022.

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Baroness Ludford:

Moved by Baroness Ludford

8: Clause 2, page 2, line 18, at end insert—“(ca) the person’s conduct is significantly prejudicial to the safety or interests of the United Kingdom, and”Member’s explanatory statementThis amendment is recommended by the JCHR and would narrow the scope of the offence of obtaining or disclosing trade secrets so that it applies only to trade secrets that would prejudice the safety or interests of the UK.

Photo of Baroness Ludford Baroness Ludford Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union)

My Lords, this is a JCHR-recommended amendment under Clause 2, which is about making it an offence to obtain or disclose trade secrets, punishable by up to 14 years’ imprisonment. Again, the JCHR feels that, as the offence is about the sharing of information, freedom of information—protected under ECHR Article 10—is engaged, including the potential that it may catch journalism, political expression or whistleblowing.

It is difficult to justify this as being in the interests of national security because no element in the offence has a link to the interests of national security, or indeed to the safety or interests of the United Kingdom. In their human rights memorandum the Government did not address the compatibility of this offence with ECHR Article 10. In the offence there is no requirement for there to be any detriment to the UK or to the public. As such, this seems to be really an offence of theft affecting a private actor. It does not really belong in a national security Bill.

The examples given in the Explanatory Notes relate to artificial intelligence and energy technology, which suggests that the Government envisage industries with links to critical infrastructure and national security concerns for this offence, rather than mere commercial secrets—important but not relevant in the Bill—relating to industries that pose no risk to national security. But as drafted the offence risks catching all trade secrets, no matter their relevance or lack of relevance to national security. As I say, that is more properly governed by the offence of theft. In his reply, perhaps the Minister can tell me why it is not covered by the offence of theft.

This amendment would add to the clause a requirement that the disclosure of a trade secret is

“prejudicial to the safety or interests of the United Kingdom”.

We on these Benches have also tabled amendments to tighten up the definition of

“interests of the United Kingdom”.

As in all our other discussions this afternoon, this is about precision and targeting rather than sweeping up all kinds of things that are not properly part of a national security Bill.

Photo of Lord Carlile of Berriew Lord Carlile of Berriew Crossbench 5:15 pm, 19th December 2022

My Lords, I rise with some trepidation to disagree with these amendments, for reasons that I will try to give briefly. Amendment 8 and, indeed, all the others in the group are concerned with intellectual property. My entry in the register of interests discloses involvement with a strategy consultancy. In that role, we sometimes make ourselves available for the investigation of imposter frauds, for example. Many of those frauds can be connected with the attempted theft of intellectual property, not just by individuals and companies but by nation states. Some of those nation states are extremely big and powerful and have the capacity to make full use of the secrets they steal to become world leaders in the marketing of such goods.

I would suggest, with respect, that Amendment 8 shows a misunderstanding of the issue by the JCHR. Indeed, the reason why the proposed Clause 2(1)(ca)—Amendment 8—is not needed is that the reasons for this provision are well set out, in subsection (2)(b) in particular. This is for the protection of some very important and extraordinarily valuable intellectual property, which is created in, and in the interests of, this country. Indeed, if one looks at the other amendments, in particular those seeking to amend subsection (2), one has to think for only a moment to see the problem, and that these amendments defy that problem.

Let us take the example of a university computer science or physics laboratory where leading-edge research is being done or, to take something extremely topical, a vaccination laboratory where research is being done that could make a huge difference to humankind in general. As it happens, it could also make an enormous amount of profit for those creating the scientific inventions and, given the advantages they gain through taxation, for the Government.

It seems to me that the provisions in the Bill are absolutely needed to protect those scientists and inventors. There is a stage between the idea—which may come to someone in the bath or shower—and the production of a patent or copyright during which that idea is not protected by registration. These provisions precisely protect that intermediate area between the idea coming into the scientist’s head and its being registered and protected under the intellectual property legislation, which can be quite slow, very expensive and very complex.

So I respectfully suggest to those who have tabled these amendments that they are not needed and that, in fact, the Bill gives the right sort of protection precisely where it is needed, in the clause in question.

Photo of Lord Pannick Lord Pannick Crossbench

I respectfully disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Carlile. He may well be able to make a compelling case that there is a mischief that here needs to be addressed, but it is surely nothing whatever to do with national security, which is the subject of the Bill. The noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, is right that it is puzzling that there is no requirement in Clause 2 that it be established that the conduct in question is prejudicial to the safety or interests of the United Kingdom. The desirability of improving intellectual property law is really not an appropriate subject for a Bill of this nature.

Moreover, the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, says that if one looks at Clause 2(2)(b), that paragraph ensures the protection. I remind the Committee that all that Clause 2(2)(b) does is define a “trade secret” as information that

“has actual or potential industrial, economic or commercial value which would be … adversely affected if it became generally known”.

That is the loosest possible definition of a commercial trade secret. It is impossible to understand why matters of that sort should be dealt with in the Bill; indeed, that information may be enjoyed or owned by a foreign individual or company.

Trade secret law is very well developed. It includes remedies for damages and for injunctions. To include Clause 2 in the Bill would attract not just the considerable criminal penalties that the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, referred to, it would invoke Clause 16, on the criminality of preparatory acts—

Photo of Lord Davies of Gower Lord Davies of Gower Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)

My Lords, if this is an intervention, could the noble Lord make his point, please?

Photo of Lord Carlile of Berriew Lord Carlile of Berriew Crossbench

The noble Lord asked to make an intervention, which is why I allowed him to, and I regret that he used the procedure of the House to make a speech. He will be free to make a speech if he wishes to do so.

Photo of Lord Carlile of Berriew Lord Carlile of Berriew Crossbench

No, I am not letting the noble Lord in now. I am sure he will make a speech if he wishes to in a moment.

I will respond to the noble Lord’s intervention, if I may be allowed a moment to do so. His intervention completely misses the point. He seeks to impose upon us his definition of national security. I do not share his definition of national security. If there is theft by a major state overseas of important intellectual property that has yet to be registered and which could make a huge difference to this country, in my view that falls well within the definition of national security. Indeed, that is why the Government have chosen to include economic issues in the broad definition of national security. So I respect my noble friend’s intervention but I disagree with it. I shall listen very carefully to any speech that he makes—after I have sat down.

Photo of Lord Pannick Lord Pannick Crossbench

I am very sorry. I apologise to the noble Lord and the Committee; I thought he had sat down, and I was not the only Member of the House who thought so.

I have made my speech. The only point that I was going to add was that if we retain Clause 2, it includes the preparatory acts under Clause 16 and the powers of search under Clause 21. For all those reasons, I think Clause 2 should not be included in the Bill.

Photo of Lord Wallace of Saltaire Lord Wallace of Saltaire Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)

My Lords, the noble Lord obviously did not know that the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, had not sat down, but he perhaps ought reasonably to have known.

This exchange has focused my mind much more on the following question: part of the grey zone that we are dealing with is whether or not economic security is now part of national security. To a considerable extent, it is. I have not yet fully understood the relationship between the Bill and the National Security and Investment Act, passed last year, which deals with, among other things, some aspects of intellectual property. There may well be—but I am not sufficiently expert on it—a degree of overlap between that Act and what is proposed here.

Photo of Lord Carlile of Berriew Lord Carlile of Berriew Crossbench

I am grateful to the noble Lord for giving way. The National Security and Investment Act 2021 deals with investment and the transfer of more than 25% of the equity in certain types of companies, and it is very clear. A unit has been set up, in two departments at least, to deal with those provisions. There is no real relationship between this provision and the NSIA.

Photo of Lord Wallace of Saltaire Lord Wallace of Saltaire Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)

I am reassured. I declare a certain interest: I have a number of relatives in aspects of scientific research. My son tells me that he is a systems biologist, but I note that engineering biology and synthetic biology are defined in the NSI Act among the strategic areas, and they are in some ways very similar to systems biology. So that is part of my active interest in this area. I am well aware that, in our universities, we have a large number of multinational teams working on the cutting edge of advanced science in a number of different areas. That is part of the grey zone with which we are now dealing and which it is extremely difficult to come to grips with.

I will speak to my Amendment 11, which is very much a probing amendment, raising the question of how we handle the very substantial number of dual nationals we have in this country, both living here and living in other countries—in some cases, they are long-term residents in other countries. If we are moving towards an increasingly unfriendly and difficult international environment, as we are already seeing, dual nationals will come under increasing pressure, not just from what we may do, mildly, within the Bill but from the other countries of which they have citizenship and with which they have connections. We have seen the pressures that the Iranian Government are willing to push on to the family members of dual nationals or single British citizens living in this country, and we have seen the same in China. Therefore, there are a number of questions about whether we need to take on board the presence and complexity of our dual-national citizens as part of the complications of the Bill.

I am also conscious that, unless the Minister can reassure me, we have no idea how many dual nationals we have, who they are or where they are. All the questions I posed during the passage of the Elections Act about our overseas citizens, and potential overseas electors, have told me that we have very little idea of who and where they are. I raise this because I simply do not know whether there is a problem or how serious it may be. But it seems to me that we should pay more attention to a world in which some hostile foreign states will do their best to bring all the pressures that they can on British citizens with origins in their country or dual citizens.

Photo of Baroness Manningham-Buller Baroness Manningham-Buller Chair, Conduct Committee, Chair, Conduct Committee

I will not take very long; I will just correct the suggestion of the noble Lord, Lord Wallace, that economic pressures on national security are a new addition. The Security Service Act 1989—the noble Lord, Lord Beith, who is not in his place, referred to this—talked about protecting the

“economic well-being of the United Kingdom”.

This is not a new issue. That is a point of clarification, for which I have not taken too much time.

Photo of Lord Macdonald of River Glaven Lord Macdonald of River Glaven Crossbench

My Lords, on the minor tiff between the noble Lords, Lord Pannick and Lord Carlile, both of whom I have great respect for, I am inclined to side with the noble Lord, Lord Carlile. I have no doubt at all that economic well-being is an aspect of national security. It is worth observing that Clause 2(1)(d) requires that

“the foreign power condition is met in relation to the … conduct” in question. In Clause 29, the “foreign power” condition is:

“For the purposes of this Part the foreign power condition is met in relation to a person’s conduct if … the conduct in question, or a course of conduct of which it forms part, is carried out for or on behalf of a foreign power, and … the person knows, or ought reasonably to know, that to be the case.”

That is the sort of conduct that we are talking about. We are not talking simply about one commercial organisation stealing a science secret from the University of Oxford; we are talking about this conduct being carried out at the behest of a foreign power, which rather colours the matter in the way that the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, described.

Photo of Lord Faulks Lord Faulks Non-affiliated 5:30 pm, 19th December 2022

My Lords, I had two points to make, the first of which, about foreign power, has just been made by the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald, so I will not repeat it. The second is more of a question. The noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, asked, “Why not charge theft?” I have no doubt that I will be advised by the Minister, but is there not a requirement that you have to deprive somebody permanently of something to constitute the offence of theft? I can see some potential argument that somebody charged under that offence would say that they had no intention to deprive that person permanently of that information.

Photo of Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Justice)

My Lords, I have not yet spoken to Amendments 9 and 10, which I was proposing to do before my noble friend spoke for us. Before doing so, I join my noble friend Lady Ludford in opposing the protection of all trade secrets without any requirement for there to be prejudice to the interests of the United Kingdom. That amendment, which has been proposed on behalf of the JCHR, seems to me to be sensible. I also share her bemusement, and that of others, that trade secrets are included in the Bill, because the way in which they are included is extremely wide.

The noble Lord, Lord Pannick, has pointed out that Clause 2(2)(b)—he read it aloud, but I will not repeat doing so—is so wide that it effectively covers any information which has any commercial value of any significance. Of course, that information is important, and, to that extent, I accept the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Carlile. However, state actors may also steal, or act nefariously in respect of, trade secrets—as may others, be they state actors or not. They may be from the United Kingdom or abroad. They may be connected to national security, but if the Bill will deal with trade secrets, they need to be defined in such a way that it is confined to trade secrets that present a threat to national security. The Bill goes far too wide if we include wide threats to trade secrets in the criminal proceedings—which, as my noble friend Lady Ludford said, carry very heavy sentences—without the need to prove the threat to national security as an element of the criminal offence. As the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, said, threats to trade secrets are normally dealt with in the civil courts, where the protection to intellectual property is customarily and very frequently dealt with every day.

It is absolutely right, as the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald of River Glaven, pointed out, that there is a requirement that the foreign power condition must be met. However, the foreign power condition in Clause 29 is not a very difficult hurdle to surmount. The present drafting does not require any prejudice to the security, defence or other interests of the United Kingdom. It is met if conduct is carried out not by a state Government but by any entity controlled or financially assisted by a foreign power—so that could be a commercial organisation that happened to be state-controlled. For “foreign power”, we have to read that as any power or any other state, including any friendly Government from anywhere in the world.

Our Amendments 9 and 10 tighten up the wording on trade secrets in Clause 2, but only in a limited way: by requiring that a trade secret must be subject to measures to prevent it becoming generally known or available to rival experts in the field. We suggest that it is simply not satisfactory—

Photo of Lord Carlile of Berriew Lord Carlile of Berriew Crossbench

I have been listening very carefully to the noble Lord, whom I always listen to with great respect. Can I take it that he or his party will put down an amendment to the Long Title of the Bill in due course? Perhaps he has not read the Long Title in full, because, as far as I can see, it covers all these amendments in the exact way in which they are intended. We are in danger of over-sophisticating a non-existent definition of national security.

Photo of Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Justice)

I am bound to say that I discussed that before the noble Lord came in. Since, in my opening speech on the first group of amendments, I quoted specifically from the Long Title of the Bill dealing with Part 1 offences, I do not accept the criticism that I have not read it. Nor do I accept the criticism that it is apposite to threats that have nothing to do with national security, because the Long Title—which starts by dealing with Part 1, as far as the first semi-colon—is about making provision about threats to national security. My point is that, if you protect trade secrets in these very wide terms, it may include threats to national security, but it is not limited to threats to national security and it may go far wider.

It is not satisfactory for trade secrets to qualify for protection just because the information in those secrets might be reasonably expected to be subject to measures to prevent them becoming known generally. What would the measures be? Would they be imposed by a court, by government or by regulation? That is undefined. Perhaps the Minister, in replying, would explain what those measures might be. How does it help to protect trade secrets that are not subject to any protective measures, as the Bill specifically envisages? The clause raises far more questions than it answers.

Photo of Lord Purvis of Tweed Lord Purvis of Tweed Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (International Trade), Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (International Development), Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

My Lords, I will very briefly follow my noble friends to agree with that proposition. There has been reference to the foreign power condition, and I will refer to that too.

First, I take the opportunity to say that I am grateful to the Minister for what he said to me earlier by highlighting Clause 29(5). Yes, it does include that the foreign power condition can be met,

“if the person intends the conduct in question to benefit a foreign power”, without necessarily identifying that foreign power. However, that is not an exclusive meeting of the test, as my noble friend Lord Marks has indicated. The test can be met, for example, if one of two business partners who has some intellectual property or something of commercial value is in negotiations with, say, a sovereign wealth fund in the Gulf and then there is a dispute between the two business partners. While one wants to sell that to the sovereign wealth fund in the Gulf, the other says, “You can’t do that, because that is now in breach of the National Security Bill, because I believe that this is a trade secret.” That is because a foreign power, under Clause 30(1)(c), is

“an agency or authority of a foreign government”, so a sovereign wealth fund seeking investment could be within that definition. Therefore, I have sympathy for the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, but a counterpoint has been raised by asking whether the Bill is the most appropriate way for national security to cover those aspects—and, on balance, I do not think that it is.

However, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, that the acquisition, use or disclosure of a trade secret is unlawful where the acquisition, use or disclosure constitutes a breach of confidence in respect of confidential information. As I understand it, that was the thrust of his argument. That is also the law: we have transposed the Trade Secrets (Enforcement, etc.) Regulations 2018 into UK law, so we have that intellectual property legislation—including a nine-page trade secrets regulation. I listened very carefully to what the noble Lord said, and all of it, I think, is covered within existing legislation. The question then arises as to what the intent would be if one is either selling a trade secret or giving a trade secret to a foreign power to advance that foreign power.

That could absolutely be included in the Bill. The concern is that, given the way the Bill is drafted, so many other aspects could also be. That is the point we are trying to tease out: whether the Government intend that trade secrets are, as the noble Baroness indicated, some form of economic warfare, espionage or tactic. That is where the interest of the Bill should lie. It should not be the mechanism whereby trade disputes, commercial disputes or intellectual property disputes are resolved. Ultimately, that is where the Bill could be used. I do not think there are any in this Committee, but I am certain there are creative lawyers who might look for the most appropriate vehicle for the less appropriate cause. I am worried that the Bill would become one of those.

Photo of Lord Coaker Lord Coaker Shadow Spokesperson (Defence), Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Opposition Whip (Lords)

My Lords, the amendments in this group relate to the new offences of obtaining or disclosing trade secrets. We support these new offences and agree that the Government should safeguard against threats to the UK’s trade policy. We see them as important amendments. None the less, we have had an interesting and important debate today. As the noble Lord, Lord Marks, has outlined, Amendments 8, 9 and 10 are about trying to understand why the Government believe that the offences need to have such a wide scope and whether narrowing them down would really have the unintended or bad consequences that the Government believe they would.

I have a couple of specific questions for the Government. The Bill says that there has to be a direct link to a foreign power, but suppose somebody obtains information such as a trade secret and sells it not to a foreign power but to a competitor business. Is that covered under the legislation? Is it the case that, under the Bill, to prosecute there would need to be a link from the individual to a foreign power and not just to a competitor within the UK?

The measures in Clause 2(4) to (7)—I think the noble Lord, Lord Wallace, referred to this in his Amendment 11—are really quite important. Why can the offence take place only outside the UK if it is in respect to possession by a UK national, as opposed to a UK national and/or a UK resident, or any other description of persons? Having talked about a narrow definition, I wonder why the Government have restricted the measures in subsections (4) to (7) to a UK national. I would be interested to hear the Government’s answer to that.

An interesting discussion and debate has taken place within the Committee about the JCHR recommendation. It is an interesting point that we will all want the Government to clarify. What is the Minister actually saying to the points from the noble Lords, Lord Carlile and Lord Marks, and the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford? The JCHR quite clearly states that:

“The theft of trade secrets that pose no risk to national security is more properly governed by the offence of theft (and other breach of confidence and intellectual property rules) than through new espionage offences.”

It would be interesting to understand whether the Government think the JCHR is wrong or whether it has a point. If the JCHR is wrong, why do the Government believe it is wrong? Maybe the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, have greater relevance with respect to this Bill. With those few remarks, I look forward to the Minister’s response.

Photo of Lord Sharpe of Epsom Lord Sharpe of Epsom The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have participated in another lively and entertaining debate. Amendment 8 seeks to add a “safety or interests of the UK” test to Clause 2. Amendments 9 and 10 seek to narrow the definition of a “trade secret” so that it captures only information which is actually subject to measures to protect it. Amendment 11 seeks to expand the scope of a “UK person”. The Government reject these amendments and I will try to explain why.

The offence of obtaining or disclosing trade secrets targets threats designed to undermine our economic prosperity, tackling the whole-state approach to national security adopted by state actors. The Government believe that economic prosperity and national security are inherently linked. You cannot have one without securing the other, and Clause 2 seeks to protect both.

Amendment 8 seeks to add a “safety or interests of the UK” test to Clause 2, but that risks reducing the operational utility of the offence significantly and bringing it too close in scope to Clause 1:

“Obtaining or disclosing protected information.”

There is also a real risk that this amendment would leave a wide range of activity out of the scope of Clause 2. Requiring a person’s conduct to meet the proposed test in this amendment would mean that the offence did not protect against the whole threat, which is not just to the UK’s safety or interests but to world-leading UK businesses and the value of the information they hold in cutting-edge technologies and ideas. Therefore, the Government reject Amendment 8.

There is no specific criminal offence in UK law which criminalises the theft of trade secrets by, or for the benefit of, foreign states. Our definition of “trade secrets” has been drafted the way it has to ensure that it is suitable for our specific purposes. The definition has been drafted to ensure the offence addresses the increasingly diverse set of tactics employed by state actors to undermine the UK’s national and economic security and targets a wide range of information.

I will go into some more detail on this, and I hope this will answer the questions from the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, about scope. This offence is designed to tackle the modern threat posed by state actors conducting harmful espionage activity against the UK. State actors increasingly employ an increasingly diverse, and frankly alarming, set of tactics to undermine the UK’s national and economic security and target a wide range of information, as the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, pointed out.

The definition in the regulations does not account for information with future value and focuses solely on information with current commercial value. We are seeking to capture early-stage ideas, such as research, as well as established ideas subject to protective measures with industrial and economic value, as well as commercial value. Additionally, there is no requirement for the information to be protectively marked in our state threats offence, although we anticipate that much of the information targeted by foreign states will be protected. The existing definition in the regulations states that the information has to have been subject to reasonable steps to have been kept secret.

As to whether theft would be an appropriate offence for this, as the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald of River Glaven, noted, all elements of the offence have to be satisfied, including, crucially, the foreign power condition.

As the amendment highlights, the definition in Clause 2 extends to information that could reasonably be expected to be subject to protective measures even if it is not actually subject to such measures. This is because there will be a range of information that would be valuable to a foreign power but that would not necessarily have been identified as such by the holder of the information. This could include early-stage ideas and research. It would be against the UK’s interests for that foreign power to be able to obtain such information. Our definition therefore ensures that we capture a wider range of information from being misappropriated by foreign powers. The Government reject Amendments 9 and 10 because their effect would be that some information that should be included would be out of scope.

I now turn to Amendment 11, which would see the definition of a “UK person” in Clause 2(6) expanded to include a dual national who holds both British citizenship and citizenship of another country. A person with dual citizenship, one of which is British citizenship, would fall within the current definition of a UK person in Clause 2, and therefore the Government believe this amendment is unnecessary. The noble Lord, Lord Wallace, asked about amendments that potentially include the holders of BNO passports and what have you. They are comprehensively covered in Clause 2(7). The Government also reject this amendment as unnecessary.

The noble Lord, Lord Coaker, asked about the definition of UK persons. It goes beyond a UK citizen and includes someone who lives in the UK; it is not just UK citizens. The noble Lord also asked about foreign power and corporates. I would answer that it depends very much on the corporate. If I am wrong on that, I will write to the noble Lord.

Photo of Lord Coaker Lord Coaker Shadow Spokesperson (Defence), Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Opposition Whip (Lords) 5:45 pm, 19th December 2022

I am not going to disagree with the Minister, but on the question of the letter—and I am pleased that he is writing to me—could he put it in the Library, and do that with respect to all the letters, so that every noble Lord can see his answers to the various questions?

Photo of Lord Sharpe of Epsom Lord Sharpe of Epsom The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

Yes, I am happy to give that reassurance. This is just me flying somewhat solo, so I shall clarify that, but I can think of a number of circumstances where it would very much depend on the corporate. But I shall seek official clearance on that. In light of all those answers, I respectfully ask the noble Baroness to withdraw her amendment.

Photo of Baroness Ludford Baroness Ludford Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union)

My Lords, that was another interesting debate. I am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, for defending the honour of the JCHR against a charge of naivety from the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, which I reject. I am sure that the JCHR is capable of understanding the noble Lord’s points.

As the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, said, there is a mischief here. As the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald, said, economic espionage can be against national security—and it can be, but I think that the Minister went further than that. He said that economic prosperity and national security were synonymous. That is a very broad assertion. For instance, the shareholders in Tesla apparently believe, because the share price of Tesla has dropped rather fast, that Elon Musk has neglected the economic prosperity of Tesla by his concentration on Twitter. I do not think that any of us would regard the share price of Tesla as affecting the national security of the United States. I believe that the Minister is wrong in saying that economic prosperity and national security are synonymous, but of course I accept that economic espionage can certainly damage national security.

As my noble friend Lord Marks said, my Amendment 8 intends precisely to put in a test or condition that the theft of a trade secret is prejudicial to the “safety or interests of the United Kingdom”, preferably with that term redefined by amendments from these Benches. Without that condition, as the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, said, Clause 2 does not belong in this Bill. I conclude that I am really not persuaded by the arguments against Amendment 8. When damage to economic prosperity is also harmful to national security, that would be satisfied, if a test of that was added—and I have not heard an argument as to why that test is missing from Clause 2. If the Minister is correct that economic espionage and damage to national security are synonymous, what is the harm of putting in a definition, as the amendment suggests? But I have not yet persuaded the Minister, or indeed some other Members of the House, so for the time being I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 8 withdrawn.

Amendments 9 to 11 not moved.

Clause 2 agreed.

Clause 3: Assisting a foreign intelligence service