Before we start today’s business, I want to make a brief statement about a security matter.
Members and others will have seen media reports yesterday about a security issue relating to the Chinese state and access to this House. I understand that the Metropolitan police have now confirmed that two men were arrested in March on suspicion of offences relating to espionage and that they are on police bail until early October.
As you know, we do not discuss the details of security issues on the Floor of the House, for reasons that are well understood. This is an ongoing, sensitive investigation and Members will of course understand that public discussion of it would be wholly inappropriate. However, I want to reassure Members that the House follows the same vetting procedures as the Government; that issues raised by the media stories are being addressed; and that our security are working closely and effectively with other relevant authorities. We keep our security arrangements under review at all times in order to deal with the evolving threats.
The extremely small number of people who needed to know were immediately briefed, on a strictly confidential basis, given the national security of this sensitive matter. At this stage, I do not wish to say anything further about this issue, and I would remind all Members of the importance of not discussing security issues on the Floor of the House. That is particularly important in this case, where commenting on the identities of those alleged to be involved, engaging in speculation about the case or discussing other details runs a serious risk of prejudicing any further prosecutions—the comments made in the media were unhelpful—something for which I am sure no Member would want to be responsible.
I do not intend to take any points of order on this matter. If Members have security concerns, they are, of course, welcome to raise them outside this Chamber with me or with the House security professionals, or with both.
Business before questions
That, on the fourteenth day of September 2023, Mr Speaker do issue his Warrant to the Clerk of the Crown to make out a new Writ for the electing of a Member to serve in this present Parliament for the County Constituency of Tamworth in the room of Christopher John Pincher, who since his election for the said County Constituency has been appointed to the Office of Steward and Bailiff of His Majesty’s Manor of Northstead in the County of York.—(Simon Hart.)