Nadhim Zahawi contributions to the National Security and Investment Bill 2019-21


Wed 20th January 2021 National Security and Investment Bill (Commons Chamber)
3rd reading: House of Commons
Report stage
Report stage: House of Commons
21 interactions (2,269 words)
Tue 17th November 2020 National Security and Investment Bill (Commons Chamber)
2nd reading
2nd reading: House of Commons
4 interactions (1,962 words)

National Security and Investment Bill

(3rd reading: House of Commons)
(Report stage)
(Report stage: House of Commons)
Nadhim Zahawi Excerpts

and order depends on our national security. National security is the very principle on which government is based, in which spirit I support the Bill enthusiastically and look forward to its further developments—in particular, the further work that I know the Government are now raring to do on appropriate scrutiny and oversight.

Nadhim Zahawi Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Nadhim Zahawi)
- Hansard - -

May I add my congratulations to President Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris, and their national security team?

I thank all hon. Members who have tabled amendments and new clauses and have spoken to them so eloquently: the hon. Member for Dundee East (Stewart Hosie); my right hon. Friend the Member for New Forest East (Dr Lewis); the shadow Minister, the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne Central (Chi Onwurah); my hon. Friend the Member for Tonbridge and Malling (Tom Tugendhat); the hon. Member for Aberavon (Stephen Kinnock); the hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross (Jamie Stone), who spoke so pithily; my hon. Friend the Member for South Ribble (Katherine Fletcher); the right hon. Member for North Durham (Mr Jones); the hon. Member for Ilford South (Sam Tarry); my hon. Friend the Member for Arundel and South Downs (Andrew Griffith); the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon); my hon. Friend the Member for Isle of Wight (Bob Seely); the hon. Member for Liverpool, Riverside (Kim Johnson); my hon. Friend the Member for Beckenham (Bob Stewart); the hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Matt Western), my neighbour; and of course my right hon. Friend the Member for South Holland and The Deepings (Sir John Hayes), who reminded us of the words of the great Edmund Burke.

National security is an area of utmost importance, and that has been reflected in a sober and considered debate, with the excellent contributions that we have heard today, and, indeed, over the past few months. I will take this opportunity to respond to some of the points raised this afternoon.

New clauses 4 and 5 create a non-exhaustive list of factors that the Secretary of State must have regard to when assessing national security risks arising from trigger events. In fact, the Secretary of State has joined us to demonstrate how important this Bill is to him. I congratulate him on his elevation to being my new boss at BEIS.

As currently drafted, the Bill does not seek to define national security or include factors that the Secretary of State must or may take into account when assessing national security risks. Instead, factors that the Secretary of State expects to take into account when deciding whether to exercise the call-in power are proposed to be set out in the statement provided for by clause 3, a draft of which was published alongside the Bill. The Secretary of State is unable to call in an acquisition of control until that statement has been laid before both Houses. It is clear from the debate today, and also from conversations with colleagues, that these are the amendments on which there is strongest feeling in the House, and in the Foreign Affairs and Development Committee, so I will take care to set out the Government’s case.

The Bill’s approach reflects the long-standing policy of Governments of different hues to ensure that powers relating to national security are sufficiently flexible to address the myriad risks that may arise. As we heard from my hon. Friend the Member for Beckenham, national security risks are multi-faceted and constantly evolving, and what may constitute a risk today may not be a risk in the future. Indeed, the Foreign Affairs Committee, chaired by my hon. Friend the Member for Tonbridge and Malling, said in its own excellent report that

“an overly specific definition of national security could serve to limit the Government’s ability to protect UK businesses from unforeseen security risks.”

Bob Seely Portrait Bob Seely
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Does the Minister accept that what is being proposed is not a limiting arena of what constitutes national security but a baseline of what constitutes national security, and that there may be a reason to adapt it over time? Indeed, paragraph (h) of new clause 4 makes an assumption that it can be expanded.

Nadhim Zahawi Portrait Nadhim Zahawi
- Hansard - -

My hon. Friend makes an important point. As I mentioned, the statement that the Secretary of State has laid with the Bill takes in much of the direction of travel of this amendment from the Foreign Affairs Committee.

I acknowledge that the Foreign Affairs Committee is pushing for more detail rather than less, but I would reassure them that the Government agree with their main conclusion that the Secretary of State should provide as much detail as possible on the factors that will be taken into account when considering national security. Importantly, however, that is only up until the point that the detail risks the protection of national security itself. That is why the Government have taken this approach in the draft statement provided for by clause 3. In that statement, we identify three types of risk that are proposed to form the basis of the call-in national security assessment. These are: the target risk, which considers the nature of the acquisition and where it lies in the economy; the trigger event risk, which considers the level of control and how it might be used; and the acquirer risk, which covers the extent to which the acquirer raises national security concerns.

I would like to address each of the arguments made in the report, so that I can ease the concerns of hon. Members across the House. First, there are concerns that without a narrow definition of national security, the investment screening unit would be inundated by notifications, hampering its ability to deliver its crucial role. I acknowledge that, for business confidence in the regime, it is essential that we deliver on our statutory timeframes for decisions, which is why it is so essential that we do not allow any broadening of the assessment done by officials as part of the regime to occur, whether by inexhaustive lists, as my hon. Friend the Member for Isle of Wight has just said, or by any other form. To include modern slavery, genocide and tax evasion as factors that the Secretary of State must take into account as part of national security assessments, as these amendments propose, would not reduce the demands on the investment security unit but potentially increase them.

Secondly, there is concern that ambiguity could hinder the success of the regime. Let me be clear that this regime is about protecting national security—nothing more, nothing less—hence its real focus. Thirdly, the Foreign Affairs Committee report suggests that the staff responsible for screening transactions may lack sufficient clarity on what kinds of transactions represent legitimate national security risks, leading to important transactions being missed or to a large volume of benign transactions overwhelming the investment security unit. I want to assure hon. Members, and my hon. Friend the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, that the investment security unit will be staffed by the brightest and best, with many of them being recruited on the basis that they have essentially written the book on national security.

Tom Tugendhat Portrait Tom Tugendhat
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for highlighting this point. May I assure him that I have absolute confidence that the people he will recruit into the unit will be the best and brightest? I pay huge tribute and send many congratulations to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, who is sitting next to him. He is a friend of long standing, and I am delighted to see him serving Cabinet; that is well earned and somewhat overdue. I am sure that they are both going to have the best judgment possible. However—I am afraid there is a “however”—there are other people who are going to have to decide whether or not to file, and there is therefore a danger that people will over-file, even though the judgments will have been very cautiously made.

Nadhim Zahawi Portrait Nadhim Zahawi
- Hansard - -

That is something I have been watching carefully as we introduced this legislation, obviously. We have had around 36 inquiries to the team already, so it feels to me that where we have landed is proportionate and right.

Kevan Jones Portrait Mr Kevan Jones
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I have no doubt that the Minister will aim to recruit the brightest and best. However, what assurance can he give that those individuals will have not only the necessary security clearance but the culture of thinking about security, as opposed to business and regulation?

Nadhim Zahawi Portrait Nadhim Zahawi
- Hansard - -

They will be able to draw on all the experience, culture and, of course, resources of Government to be able to do their job properly, I assure the right hon. Member of that.

The report sets out a fear, as we have heard elsewhere, that without a definition of national security in the Bill, interventions under the NSI regime will be politicised. I wholeheartedly agree that it is crucial for the success of the regime that decisions made are not political but rather technocratic, dispassionate and well judged. I repeat the words of my right hon. Friend the Member for Reading West (Alok Sharma), the former Business Secretary, who on Second Reading assured the House that:

“The Government will not be able to use these powers to intervene in business transactions for broader economic or public interest reasons, and we will not seek to interfere in deals on political grounds.”—[Official Report, 17 November 2020; Vol. 684, c. 210.]

Indeed, if the Secretary of State took into account political factors outside the remit of national security, the decision could not be upheld on judicial review. It is with this in mind, and our focus on protecting foreign direct investment, which so many colleagues are concerned about, especially as we come out of the covid challenge, that politicised decisions will not be possible under the NSI regime. I hope right hon. and hon. Members feel I have sufficiently explained the Government’s approach. We have sought to deliver what the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Opposition recommend.

Bob Seely Portrait Bob Seely
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I will not labour the point beyond this. The Minister says that tax evasion will not be a bar. I accept that the Government made that statement. Does he accept that, in Australia, tax evasion is one of those significant elements? He rather implies that tax evasion and tax evaders will not be opposed in buying UK companies, so how high will the bar be set on criminality or on unsavoury characters—maybe people close to Russian Presidents and oligarchs and questionable companies?

Nadhim Zahawi Portrait Nadhim Zahawi
- Hansard - -

As colleagues have said, the Bill has been a long time in gestation, from 2017 to the 2018 consultation and White Paper and now today. We look at what other countries do, and I think we have reached a proportionate position. Of course, as I say, the Secretary of State’s statement sets out exactly how he would assess the risks to national security. I hope I have addressed that.

My final point of reassurance is that there will be further scrutiny on this point. As I explained in Committee, the statement provided for by clause 3 will go out to full public consultation prior to being laid before Parliament, and the Government will listen carefully to any proposals for further detail.

Amendments 1, 2, 3 and 6 broadly seek to ensure that the scope of the regime as a whole is right, that mandatory notification covers the right sectors and that both the statement and the notifiable acquisition regulations are reviewed within a year. Amendment 1 would require notifiable acquisition regulations to be reviewed within a year of having been made, and once every five years thereafter. It is right that the Secretary of State keeps a constant watch on these regulations. Indeed, it is vital that he has the flexibility to reassess and, if needed, seek to update the regulations at any time. The nature of his responsibilities under the regime creates sufficient incentive for this regular review.

Amendment 2 would, in effect, introduce two further trigger events to the regime. It would mean that a person becoming a major debt holder would count as a person gaining control of a qualifying entity. The amendment would also mean that a person becoming a major supplier to an entity counted as a person gaining control of a qualifying entity.

We on the Government Benches believe that access to finance is crucial for so many small businesses and large businesses to grow and succeed. They will often take out loans secured against the very businesses and assets that they have fought so hard to build; I did just that when I started YouGov. That is why the Bill allows the Secretary of State to scrutinise acquisitions of control that take place where lenders exercise rights over such collateral, but the Government do not consider that the provision of loans and finance is automatically a national security issue. Indeed, it is part of a healthy business ecosystem that enables businesses to flourish in this country.

I share the desire of the hon. Members for Aberdeen South, for Glenrothes and for Dundee East to ensure that businesses in our most sensitive supply chains are protected. The Bill does that already by allowing the Secretary of State to call in trigger events across the economy where he reasonably suspects that they may give rise to national security risks. That includes key suppliers.

Break in Debate

Julian Lewis Portrait Dr Julian Lewis
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

For the sake of clarity, the annual report that will be supplied to Parliament will not have any security-sensitive information in it. The Minister says that we could request further information. The only information we want to request is the information of a security-sensitive nature that will routinely have played a part in leading to these decisions. I do not want to tell any tales out of school. All I can say is that the Minister seemed very receptive when I put forward the idea of an annexe to the report, which would come to the Committee, or alternatively there could be an unredacted or redacted version of the report. Is he saying that the Cabinet Office is declining to do that? If so, it would appear that the malign influence of one Mr Cummings is not entirely eliminated from that Department.

Nadhim Zahawi Portrait Nadhim Zahawi
- Hansard - -

I am grateful for my right hon. Friend’s intervention. What I was saying is that there are no restrictions. His Committee will be able to invite the Secretary of State to give evidence to it, and it will also be able to ask for further information, which the unit will be able to provide.

Kevan Jones Portrait Mr Kevan Jones
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Minister is wrong when he talks about asking the Secretary of State, because his is not one of the Departments that we overlook, but it is already there that this information be provided. I do not know why he and the Government are resisting this, because it will give certain confidence in terms of ensuring that decisions are taken on national security grounds. If he thinks for one minute that the Cabinet Office will divulge information easily to us, I can assure him that it will not. It does not do so. We have to drag it out of them kicking and screaming every time. I am sorry, but this is very disappointing.

Nadhim Zahawi Portrait Nadhim Zahawi
- Hansard - -

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his intervention. Let me repeat again: there are no restrictions on the Committee requesting further information from the unit or from the Secretary of State.

Julian Lewis Portrait Dr Lewis
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Is this what the Minister wants? Every year, the Committee will request to have a comprehensive explanation of the security sensitive information that has underlain the different decisions that the unit has taken. All he is saying is that we can request this ad hoc every year and we will get it—I will believe that when I see it. If that were to be the case, there could be no possible objection to incorporating this in the legislation now so that it is not at the whim of a future Minister to either give us what we need or deny us what we need.

Nadhim Zahawi Portrait Nadhim Zahawi
- Hansard - -

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for his intervention and his powerful argument, but I just repeat that there are no restrictions on his Committee requesting that information.

Nadhim Zahawi Portrait Nadhim Zahawi
- Hansard - -

I will not give way. There is a lot to get through and time is short.

The Government will more generally monitor the operation of the regime and regularly review the contents of the annual reports, including in relation to academic research, spin-off enterprise or SMEs, and we will pay close attention to the resourcing and the timelines of the regime.

If, during any financial year, the assistance given under clause 30 totals £100 million or more, the Bill requires the Secretary of State to lay a report of the amount before the House. Requiring him to lay what would likely be a very similar report for every calendar year as well as for every financial year, which is in amendment 4, appears to be excessive in our view. He would likely have to give Parliament two very similar reports only a few months apart.

On amendment 5, I can reassure the House that, under clause 54, the Secretary of State would be subject to public law duties when deciding whether to share information with an overseas public authority. That includes a requirement to take all relevant considerations into account in making decisions. These are therefore considerations that the Secretary of State would already need to take into account in order to comply with public law duties.

Moving on to new clause 6, I want to be clear that we do not expect the regime to disproportionately affect SMEs, although we will of course closely monitor its impact. The Government have been happy to provide support to businesses both large and small through the contact address available on gov.uk. Furthermore, the factsheets make it clear what the measures in the proposed legislation are and to whom they apply, so there is real clarity on this. It would therefore not be necessary to provide the grace period for SMEs proposed under new clause 3 and neither would it be appropriate. Notifiable acquisitions by SMEs may well present national security concerns and this proposed new clause would, I am afraid, create a substantial loophole.

To conclude, although I am very grateful for the constructive and collegiate engagement from hon. and right hon. Members across the House, for the reasons that I have mentioned I cannot accept the amendments and new clauses tabled for this debate and therefore hope that they will agree to withdraw them.

Stewart Hosie Portrait Stewart Hosie [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

This has been a detailed and considered debate. I thought there were some particularly thoughtful contributions from the Chair of the ISC and from the right hon. Member for North Durham (Mr Jones) in relation to the oversight of sensitive and confidential information that should fall within the remit of the ISC. It was disappointing to hear the Minister’s response in his last contribution. My main concern, however, was to ensure that the scope of the Bill was appropriate and that the impact of the measures was proportionate, particularly for smaller businesses and for academia. Given what the Minister has just said about the regulations and procedures being under constant watch, with the Secretary of State having the flexibility to update them at any time, I am satisfied that, should we identify an overly burdensome course of action being taken in relation to small businesses or academia in the future, the Minister would respond swiftly. I therefore beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.

Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

New Clause 4

Framework for understanding national security

“When assessing a risk to national security for the purposes of this Act, the Secretary of State must have regard to factors including, but not restricted to—

(a) the potential impact of the trigger event on the UK’s defence capabilities and interests;

(b) whether the trigger event risks enabling a hostile actor to—

(i) gain control or significant influence of a part of a critical supply chain, critical national infrastructure, or natural resource;

(ii) conduct espionage via or exert undue leverage over the target entity;

(iii) obtain access to sensitive sites or to corrupt processes or systems;

(c) the characteristics of the acquirer, including whether it is effectively directly or indirectly under the control, or subject to the direction, of a foreign government;

(d) whether the trigger event adversely impacts the UK’s capability and capacity to maintain security of supply or strategic capability in sectors critical to the UK’s economy or creates a situation of significant economic dependency;

(e) the potential impact of the trigger event on the transfer of sensitive data, technology or potentially sensitive intellectual property in strategically important sectors, outside of the UK;

(f) the potential impact of the trigger event on the UK’s international interests and obligations, including compliance with UK legislation on modern slavery and compliance with the UN Genocide Convention;

(g) the potential of the trigger event to involve or facilitate significant illicit or subversive activities, including terrorism, organised crime, money laundering and tax evasion; and

(h) whether the trigger event may adversely impact the safety and security of UK citizens or the UK.”—(Tom Tugendhat.)

Brought up, and read the First time.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.

National Security and Investment Bill

(2nd reading)
(2nd reading: House of Commons)
Nadhim Zahawi Excerpts
Chi Onwurah Portrait Chi Onwurah
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

17 Nov 2020, 12:02 a.m.

The right hon. Member is talking to a chartered engineer who strongly believes that our capability in engineering and the kind of key technologies of which he talks is a basis for our national security, and that national security, without some degree of important technological sovereignty, is difficult to wholly achieve. I look forward to debating that in Committee.

It is worth pointing out that the Government’s powers have been used only sporadically in previous interventions, and they are seemingly not underpinned by any real strategy. The hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton) made a similar point.

Many Conservative Members are vehemently opposed to extending the remit of the Bill to cover industrial strategy, including, but not limited to, the hon. Members for Totnes (Anthony Mangnall), for North West Norfolk (James Wild), for Cities of London and Westminster (Nickie Aiken), for North East Bedfordshire (Richard Fuller), for Wantage (David Johnston), for Rother Valley (Alexander Stafford), for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Aaron Bell) and for South Dorset (Richard Drax). Labour believes, however, that the Government should be able to intervene in the takeover of a critical business on industrial strategy grounds. That power should be paired with defined criteria and transaction thresholds to give businesses and foreign investors clarity and confidence, and to truly make it clear that we are open for business and not exploitation—to coin a phrase.

Why did the Government not bring forward legislation to ensure that technology firms remain in the UK and to end the current ad hoc approach to industrial strategy being pursued by Ministers? That has seen binding commitments often negotiated at the last minute, companies lost, and no clarity as to the rhyme or reason why the Government choose to intervene or not. I urge the Secretary of State and the Minister to continue to approach the Bill in the spirit of collaboration, to address the undefined areas and issues that we have raised, and to shed some light on their long-term industrial strategy, including their plans to keep high-growth technological companies flourishing in the UK.

Nadhim Zahawi Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Nadhim Zahawi)
- Hansard - -

17 Nov 2020, 12:05 a.m.

It is a pleasure, as ever, to follow the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne Central (Chi Onwurah). I thank all hon. Members who have spoken in this important debate. We have had upwards of 25 speeches, all of which were thoughtfully delivered. I also thank the shadow Secretary of State, the right hon. Member for Doncaster North (Edward Miliband), for his constructive approach to this important piece of legislation. I will aim to respond to as many points made by hon. Members as possible, but I will, of course, write in response to individual questions as well.

I begin by responding to the points of the right hon. Member for Doncaster North and the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne Central, who both raised the grounds for intervention when it comes to the legislation. The legal texts in the Bill are explicit in their reference to national security rather than public interest or wider economic considerations. The hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne Central mentioned the particular deal with DeepMind and Google. If it is deemed that the asset is so important to national security—it does not matter who the acquirer is—the Bill would allow us to intervene and block that acquisition.

I have to be clear to the House today that any action the Secretary of State takes under the proposed regime would be to protect national security and not for wider economic or industrial reasons. I am sure that the right hon. Member for Doncaster North will look forward to the industrial strategy refresh that the Secretary of State is committed to publishing in the first quarter of 2021.

To address the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton), we already have a proportionate public interest power on the statute book, and most recently we have legislated to allow intervention for mitigating the effects of public health emergencies. The right hon. Member for Doncaster North and the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne Central also asked about the engagement with Government. The investment security unit will ensure that clear guidance is available to support all businesses engaging with investment screening from the outset. We have made it clear to the investment community that we are committed to effective engagement with businesses on the regime itself, and to ensuring that they are able to access a dedicated, simple online portal to notify us of any potential transaction. Of course, we note the importance of a full Government approach to investment screening. While the unit will be based in BEIS—this point was made by the right hon. Member for North Durham (Mr Jones) when he talked about the ISC—it will work closely with the security agencies and other Departments with real sector expertise. The chief executive of Make UK, Stephen Phipson has recognised this point, saying: “Technology development moves at fast pace and this Bill will modernise the UK’s approach in a proportionate way, given the Government’s commitment to a quick and streamlined process of evaluation.”

More widely, I am happy to meet any hon. and right hon. Member who has today expressed an interest in the workings of the investment security unit. The right hon. Member for Doncaster North also raised the role of the Intelligence and Security Committee, as many other colleagues have done today, and we will of course work constructively with its members and, indeed, with other Committees across the House. I wish the Chair of the Committee, the right hon. Member for New Forest East (Dr Lewis), well, and I would like to thank the other members of the Committee who spoke today. The contributions from the hon. Member for Dundee East (Stewart Hosie), the right hon. Member for North Durham, my hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin (Mark Pritchard), my right hon. Friend the Member for South Holland and The Deepings (Sir John Hayes) and my hon. Friend the Member for Beckenham (Bob Stewart) were typically excellent and well-informed.

The right hon. Member for Doncaster, North, along with the hon. Member for Bristol North West (Darren Jones), also raised the issue of the five-year period for retrospection. We have come to that view because six months would simply be too short, and we have looked at what other countries have done. It would be relatively easy for hostile parties to keep a trigger event quiet for six months and time us out, but that will be substantially more difficult in a five-year period.

John Hayes Portrait Sir John Hayes
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

17 Nov 2020, 6:28 p.m.

I am extremely are grateful to the Minister for his comments about the members of the ISC who have contributed to the debate. Given the range of questions posed to him by ISC members, will he commit to write to the Committee formally to pick up those points, so that the Committee has a clear set of answers to the series of questions posed? It would not be fair to expect him to deal with all of them now.

Nadhim Zahawi Portrait Nadhim Zahawi
- Hansard - -

17 Nov 2020, 6:28 p.m.

I can certainly give my right hon. Friend that commitment; I will do that.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Sir Iain Duncan Smith), my hon. Friend the Member for Isle of Wight (Bob Seely) and the hon. Member for Oxford West and Abingdon (Layla Moran), who is not in her place, probed on the definition of national security. A number of hon. Members have argued that the definition of national security is too narrow. I would gently point out that the Bill does not seek to define it at all, as some other Members have quite rightly argued, including, very wisely, my hon. Friend the Member for Beckenham. I think that is a real strength of the Bill, not a weakness. It means that the Government have the flexibility to act as risks change over time. The statement of policy that was published last week refers to espionage, disruption and destruction and inappropriate leverage. Those are examples of national security, not the exhaustive content of it. We need to maintain a degree of flexibility in our approach, as my hon. Friends the Members for Wantage (David Johnston) and for Beckenham recognised. I appreciate that these are quite important powers, and of course they are fully justiciable under the Bill. Hon. Members can feel secure knowing that their use, including the application of national security, can be fully tested in closed courts if necessary.

The Chair of the Science and Technology Committee, my right hon. Friend the Member for Tunbridge Wells (Greg Clark), and my hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin expressed concerns that these reforms will somehow threaten investment in small tech firms. I again remind the House that we estimate that the vast majority of transactions across the economy will not be affected by this legislation, and we do not expect to take action in relation to most of the small number that are notifiable. We will make any interactions with the Government simpler, quicker and slicker by providing clearance to most transactions within 30 days, and often quicker. Notifiable investments will be submitted through a new digital portal. At the spring Budget, the Government committed to increase public spending on R&D to £22 billion, which I think is music to the ears of many innovators in our country.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Tunbridge Wells and my hon. Friend the Member for Tonbridge and Malling (Tom Tugendhat) made the important point that the Bill does not set out a minimum size of business affected by the regime. As the Secretary of State set out, the threats we face today do not correlate to the size of the parties concerned, as they perhaps once did. This is unfortunately the world we live in. I am glad that we live in a country in which small and medium-sized businesses thrive so mightily and are often at the vanguard of cutting-edge technologies, but it is only right that the Government have flexible powers to intervene when the acquisition of such businesses may pose a risk to our national security.

My hon. Friend the Member for Isle of Wight, the hon. Member for Bristol North West (Darren Jones) and the right hon. Member for North Durham (Mr Jones) raised the issue of supply chains. The covid pandemic has demonstrated the importance of resilience in supply chains to ensure the continued flow of essential items to keep global trade moving. We have focused on ensuring supply chains for goods such as PPE. When we entered the pandemic, only 1% was manufactured in the UK; it is now about 70%. That is why we are looking at what other steps we can take to ensure that we have diverse supply chains in place. We will consider all our global supply chains to avoid shortages in the event of future crises.

My hon. Friend the Member for Tonbridge and Malling, my right hon. Friend the Member for South Holland and The Deepings and the hon. Member for Dundee East also probed the assessment process. We will make any interaction with the Government much simpler, quicker and slicker, and I am very happy to share how we are doing that.

The Chair of the BEIS Committee, the hon. Member for Bristol North West, probed our approach to sectors. It is important for the regime to reflect technological change and keep up with the investment landscape. We welcome views from across the business community on our sector consultation, and officials from across Government are already engaging with the sectors’ experts to ensure that those definitions are tight.

In the time that I have left, I want to tackle the issue of human rights. My hon. Friends the Members for Isle of Wight and for Totnes (Anthony Mangnall), and the hon. Member for Oxford West and Abingdon raised the issue of human rights, particularly in relation to Xinjiang and the Uyghur people. We take our responsibility incredibly seriously and are concerned about gross violations of human rights being perpetrated against the Uyghur Muslims and other minorities in Xinjiang. We have played a leading international role in holding China to account on these abuses and we will continue to do so through the UN and other opportunities that we have. In respect of the risk of UK business complicity in human rights violations, including forced labour, we have urged all UK businesses to conduct due diligence on their supply chains and are taking steps to strengthen supply chain transparency.

In conclusion, we have had an excellent debate today and I again thank right hon. and hon. Members for their contributions. I look forward to further probing the Bill and getting it right together in Committee.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

National Security and Investment Bill (Programme)

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 83A(7)),

That the following provisions shall apply to the National Security and Investment Bill:

Committal

(1) The Bill shall be committed to a Public Bill Committee.

Proceedings in Public Bill Committee

(2) Proceedings in the Public Bill Committee shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion on Tuesday 15 December 2020.

(3) The Public Bill Committee shall have leave to sit twice on the first day on which it meets.

Proceedings on Consideration and up to and including Third Reading

(4) Proceedings on Consideration and any proceedings in legislative grand committee shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion one hour before the moment of interruption on the day on which proceedings on Consideration are commenced.

(5) Proceedings on Third Reading shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at the moment of interruption on that day.

(6) Standing Order No.83B (Programming committees) shall not apply to proceedings on Consideration and up to and including Third Reading.

Other proceedings

(7) Any other proceedings on the Bill may be programmed.—(David Duguid.)

Question agreed to.

National Security and Investment Bill (Money)

Queen’s recommendation signified.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 52(1)(a)),

That, for the purposes of any Act arising from the National Security and Investment Bill, it is expedient to authorise:

(1) the payment of sums out of money provided by Parliament of any expenditure incurred under or by virtue of the Act by the Secretary of State, and

(2) the payment of sums into the Consolidated Fund.—(David Duguid.)

Question agreed to.