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National Security

Volume 716: debated on Monday 20 June 2022

Our national security is the first responsibility and priority of the Government, and we are ensuring that our world-class security and intelligence services and counterterrorism police are supported in their work with the tools and the legislative framework they need to keep us safe. I take this opportunity to pay tribute to them for all they do.

When it comes to the Rwanda policy, the Labour party is all over the shop. The left hand does not know what the far left hand is doing. The other day the Leader of the Opposition’s spokesman said that they could not rule out maintaining this policy, while the shadow immigration Minister told the BBC that they would definitely scrap it. While the Labour party works out if it has a policy at all, can I ask my right hon. Friend for an assurance that we will be working to break the vile business model of people traffickers by making sure that the Rwanda flights get off the ground soon?

My hon. Friend is quite right that we hear plenty of opposing from the Opposition, but not much proposing: they complain, but they do not have a plan. Our partnership with Rwanda is strong and supports a proportionate, humane approach. We are determined to deter the wicked people smugglers and the great damage that they bring to human life.

The MI5 director general recently said:

“It must be right that Parliament looks at modernising the powers the State has to protect us all from the full range of today’s threats.”

Can my right hon. Friend confirm that we are heeding the director general’s advice, and that our National Security Bill will protect us from a range of emerging threats, including cyber-attacks and interference in elections?

I can. May I take the opportunity to thank my hon. Friend for all his work in support of our national security while he was Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Home Secretary in the Department?

The National Security Bill will keep pace with the changing threat and will make the UK an ever harder target for states that seek to conduct hostile acts against us. It will be an offence for foreign powers to improperly interfere with the UK’s democracy. The Bill will address the serious threat from state-backed attacks on assets, including sites, data and infrastructure critical to the UK’s safety or interests.

Has the Home Secretary considered the dangers to freedom of the press that the National Security Bill presents? Many of my constituents are concerned that measures that could prevent journalists from publishing stories of public interest are undemocratic.

No, I do not see a danger to journalistic freedoms. Indeed, the Government are taking stringent steps to ensure, for example, that in the Online Safety Bill journalistic rights and freedoms are absolutely to the fore, because of the vital and irreplaceable role that a free and sometimes boisterous media plays in underpinning and challenging us in our democracy.

Canada, one of our Five Eyes partners, recently announced sanctions against Alexander Lebedev as one of 14 people who

“have directly enabled Vladimir Putin’s senseless war in Ukraine and bear responsibility for the pain and suffering of the people of Ukraine.”

I have asked this question of the Government six times now, but I have not had anything resembling an answer: did the Prime Minister meet Alexander Lebedev without officials and without close protection during the Salisbury poisonings in April 2018—yes or no?

I do not know the detailed contents of either individual’s diary. What I can tell the hon. Lady and the House is that this Government have acted on sanctions against Putin-linked elites—the people who have propped up and supported that regime—without fear or favour. That extends to more than 1,000 individuals, entities and subsidiaries, and we will do more as required.