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Investment Security Unit: Parliamentary Scrutiny

Volume 698: debated on Tuesday 6 July 2021

What steps he is taking to enable the effective parliamentary scrutiny of the classified aspects of the Investment Security Unit. (902280)

The National Security and Investment Act 2021 delivers important reforms of UK investment-screening powers, helping to keep this country safe. The Government look forward to working with the BEIS Committee to enable it to provide the same effective scrutiny of the Investment Security Unit as it does of the rest of the Department’s work. We are in the process of developing a memorandum of understanding to allow it to do just that.

Will my hon. Friend the Minister kindly explain the practical arrangements that will be made to ensure that the BEIS Committee can scrutinise the top secret documents involved in the work of the Investment Security Unit? Specifically, will the Committee’s members and staff be cleared to see and handle such documents, and will they be given access to secure premises in which to read and discuss such highly classified papers? And I think the answer is “fat chance”.

No, we will make sure that the BEIS Committee has the information it needs to fulfil its remit and scrutinise the work of the Investment Security Unit. As my right hon. Friend will be aware, the Osmotherly rules set out how secret and top secret material should be handled with respect to Committees other than the Intelligence and Security Committee. I can assure the House that we will have regard to those principles as we develop the memorandum of understanding with the BEIS Committee.