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Democratic Processes: Foreign Influence

Volume 634: debated on Wednesday 10 January 2018

4. What steps he is taking to ensure that democratic processes are protected against foreign influence. (903189)

The first duty of the Government is of course to safeguard the nation, and we take the security and integrity of our democratic processes very seriously. Although we have not seen evidence of successful foreign interference, we are not complacent, and we will continue to do what is necessary to protect ourselves.

In order to protect ourselves, the chair of the Electoral Commission has said that we need new rules for online political advertising to combat external influence, particularly via Facebook and Twitter. When will the Government bring forward the legislation we need?

One of the very first things for me to do in my new role is to meet the Electoral Commission, and I look forward to discussing that with it.

I welcome the new Minister. Does she agree that one of the ways of reducing foreign influence in our democratic processes would be for Members of this House not to go on Russia Today and Sputnik, and indeed be paid money for doing so?

Hearing from the right hon. Gentleman reminds me of the heady days during the coalition Government when we served in and around the Cabinet Office together. His question reminds us that there are hon. Members who seem to feel the need to do as he says. I think it would be more helpful if we recalled the words of the Prime Minister in her Mansion House speech, which were that we should be well aware of what Russia seeks to do and should seek to protect to the UK from it.