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Hostile State Activity

Volume 663: debated on Monday 15 July 2019

Across Government, we are taking a broad range of legislative, diplomatic and operational action to prevent, disrupt and deter hostile state activity.

The right hon. Member for North Thanet (Sir Roger Gale) will have Topical Question 1 as well, so he will get two bites at the cherry and he will have nothing about which to complain.

A wonderful opportunity! Scarcely cricket, but a wonderful opportunity.

Following the attempted poisonings in Salisbury, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister took robust action to secure the dismissal from the United Kingdom and other European countries of Russian spies posing as diplomats. There is some reason to suppose that that network is now being rebuilt. Without asking my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary to give details of the work of MI5, may I ask him to give us a reassurance that it is very firmly on the case?

As my right hon. Friend says, I will not comment on any sensitive intelligence matter, but he is right to be concerned about the rise in hostile state activity. There is ongoing activity across Government to ensure that our democracy is protected. We have taken many steps and co-ordinated them across Government and the relevant authorities. He will also be pleased to know that, now that the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019 is on the statute book, it gives us many more powers to counter hostile state activity.

The Home Secretary will know that police numbers remain key to hostile state activity prevention. I have still not heard an answer to the question that my right hon. Friend the Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper) posed—how many extra police officers are going to be recruited, and when, to tackle this important issue?

When it comes to hostile state activity, it is not that police numbers are unimportant, but actually, the key is intelligence and support for our intelligence services, especially for MI5 and the excellent work that it does.

I am enormously tickled to see the right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke), the Father of the House, beetle into the Chamber by walking across the Government Front Bench. I suppose that he was so long an habitué of the Treasury Bench that it may seem a perfectly normal means by which to enter the Chamber, but, in any case, we are delighted to see him.

As I say, we are very pleased to see the right hon. and learned Gentleman, and we look forward to hearing from him ere long.