Clause 37 - Prosecution

National Security and Investment Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:15 pm on 8th December 2020.

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

Photo of Graham Brady Graham Brady Chair, Conservative Party 1922 Committee

With this it will be convenient to discuss clauses 38 and 39 stand part.

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

The Secretary of State makes decisions under the regime and has the power to impose enforceable interim and final orders. However, the institution of criminal proceedings for offences under the Bill is a matter for the appropriate prosecutor. Clause 37 therefore makes clear who may bring proceedings for an offence under the Bill.

Turning to clause 38, the Government consider it important that persons who have committed an offence under the Bill should be held accountable, particularly partnerships and other unincorporated associations. For example, clause 7 provides that partnerships and unincorporated associations are qualifying entities under the regime. Clause 38 therefore provides that proceedings for offences under the Bill may be brought against partnerships and other types of unincorporated association. I stress that the commencement of criminal proceedings in relation to this regime will likely be very rare indeed but it is nevertheless important that a full spectrum of possible offending is covered.

Clause 39 sets out the criminal penalties available on conviction for offences committed under the Bill. It is crucial that the regime carries a sufficiently robust deterrent to ensure compliance. Given the seriousness of the harm that a breach of the legislation might cause, it is right that these offences carry significant criminal penalties. I do not plan to set out all the penalties available but would be happy to discuss them in more detail if it would be of interest. I hope that hon. Members agree that it is clear who can bring prosecutions under the regime, that it should be possible to prosecute partnerships and unincorporated associations, and that penalties should be sufficiently strong for those convicted of breaking this law.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 37 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 38 and 39 ordered to stand part of the Bill.