Clause 4 - Consultation and parliamentary procedure

National Security and Investment Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:00 pm on 1st December 2020.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Nadhim Zahawi Nadhim Zahawi Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care 3:15 pm, 1st December 2020

As I turn to clause 4, I will begin with a reference to clause 3. The statement provided for in clause 3 sets out how the Secretary of State expects to exercise the call-in powers that we have just been discussing. It is the Government’s view that this statement is important in ensuring that businesses have as much clarity and predictability as possible regarding the potential use of the call-in powers, including the areas of the economy where national security risks are likely to arise. Likewise, clause 3 also sets out that the Secretary of State is required to review the statement at least every five years.

It is right that there are mechanisms to ensure that the Secretary of State seeks external input, where appropriate, on the proposed contents of the statement and that Parliament can scrutinise the final version. Clause 4 therefore requires the Secretary of State to carry out such consultation on a draft of the statement as he thinks appropriate and to take into account the responses to any such consultation during the drafting process. Those requirements also apply when the Secretary of State seeks to amend or replace a published statement.

Our plan is to launch a public consultation shortly after the passage of the Bill to make sure that affected parties can provide comments to us in good time. Before the final statement may be published, clause 4 also requires the Secretary of State to lay it before Parliament, following which the statement will be subject to a procedure akin to the negative resolution procedure. If either House resolves not to approve the statement within 40 sitting days, the Secretary of State must withdraw the statement. I can assure the House and hon. Members that the Government are committed to ensuring that this new regime works for those most affected by it. Investor and business confidence is imperative to the recovery from the covid pandemic. That is why the Government propose to put in place these requirements before the Secretary of State is able to publish the statement and exercise the call-in power.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 4 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.