Clause 25 - Interim orders

Part of National Security and Investment Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:00 am on 8th December 2020.

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Photo of Chi Onwurah Chi Onwurah Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) 11:00 am, 8th December 2020

My question is not about the broadness of the orders, or even the discretion that the Secretary of State has, because, as the Minister has observed, we have sought to probe that level of discretion in these powers; it is about the broadness of the provision that:

“Before making a final order the Secretary of State must consider any representations made to the Secretary of State”.

What is meant by “consider”? How would a failure to do so be identified and reported on, and how would the Secretary of State be held to account? I seek further clarity on that. Perhaps it is obvious to the Minister, and perhaps it is just to me that it is not obvious.

I would say, in agreeing to the provisions set out in clauses 25 to 27, that there are concerns that they will not be part of the general reporting, certainly in the provisions of clause 25, and interim reports are not mentioned in clause 61. I share the concerns of my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Test about a lack of reporting on the provisions of the Bill, but we recognise the importance of the clauses and will not be opposing them.