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UK Genomics Databases

Volume 732: debated on Thursday 11 May 2023

11. What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology on the potential merits of designating UK genomics databases as critical national infrastructure. (904861)

The UK’s genomics databases are not designated as critical national infrastructure. However, through our recently published resilience frame- work, we have set out how we will work in partnership across all sectors to ensure that they are individually resilient while also fully contributing to national resilience.

I recommend that the Minister reads the speech that Secretary of State Blinken made on Tuesday, in which he outlined the threat that the abuse of genomics databases poses not just to security, but to democracy as a whole. Contrast that with the situation in this country, where we now have a Chinese genomics giant opening a new lab. When are the Government going to wake up to the threat here?

I assure the right hon. Gentleman that we take these threats seriously. The point about critical national infrastructure is that we designate it in relation to things that are important to the safe and secure day-to-day running of the United Kingdom—literally keeping the lights on. That does not mean that we do not take very seriously the threats he outlines. It is something that I am raising with the Department of Health and Social Care, which is the lead Department for genomics.