A number of constituents have contacted me to express their thoughts on the Procurement Bill, especially their support for New Clause 1.
I am pleased to inform constituents that following a review of security risks, the Government has instructed departments to cease the deployment of surveillance equipment on sensitive sites where it is produced by companies that are subject to the National Intelligence Law of the People’s Republic of China. Further details of this can be found in the Written Ministerial Statement laid last year by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on 24 November 2022. Additionally, on 7 June 2023, the Cabinet Office committed to publish a timeline for the removal of relevant surveillance equipment from sensitive sites.
While I appreciate the action taken by the Government, the risk posed by National Intelligence law of the People’s Republic of China is too great to ignore. Indeed, there should be no place for physical surveillance equipment made by companies subject to this law in the UK’s public infrastructure. Additionally, we should honour our commitment to human rights. Much of the CCTV equipment covered by the amendment has been linked to the oppression of Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
As such, I firmly believe the UK cannot be a haven for rights abusing companies. It is crucial to put a legal responsibility on the Government to remove all equipment from the procurement supply chain.
The National Cyber Security Centre Annual Review 2022 laid out the scale of activity carried out by the Chinese State. The report asserted that “China’s Ministry of State Security (MSS) has emerged as a prolific and pervasive actor in cyberspace, undertaking a substantial global espionage campaign to meet political, socio-economic, and strategic objectives”. This is underlined by comments from the head of the FBI Christopher Wray in which he claimed that the Chinese state had a bigger hacking programme than every other major nation combined.
Therefore, I think it is apparent that we should keep Chinese CCTV equipment away from the UK’s infrastructure if we are to preserve national security.