Democracy: Subversion

Cabinet Office written question – answered on 7th October 2019.

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Photo of Nicholas Dakin Nicholas Dakin Opposition Whip (Commons)

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, with reference to the Government form Security check / counter terrorist check questionnaire: NSV001, what definitions the Government uses for (a) overthrowing and (b) undermining parliamentary democracy; and what criteria the Government uses to determine those actions.

Photo of Oliver Dowden Oliver Dowden Paymaster General (HM Treasury), Minister of State (Cabinet Office)

For National Security Vetting purposes, Government policy does not define the terms ‘overthrowing’ or ‘undermining’ in any manner more explicit than the terms already indicate. The question asked of vetting candidates refers to ‘political, industrial or violent means’ and this offers context for prospective candidates to understand what types of activities are being referred to.

There are too many hypothetical examples for a comprehensive list to be feasible. Each candidate is assessed on a case by case basis, giving due regard to the guidance offered by the classified Vetting Decision Framework. Where candidates disclose a potentially adverse association of any kind, assessment of their suitability to hold a security clearance will take into account:

  1. the nature and closeness of the association in question;

  2. the self-stated or privately stated aims of individuals or organisations that wish to replace the United Kingdom’s current parliamentary political system; and

  3. the assessments of relevant agencies involved in investigating or monitoring such individuals or organisations.

An example of ‘undermining parliamentary democracy’ would be if the vetting candidate disclosed that a family member had historic links to violent extremist groups.

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