National Security Bill

– in a Public Bill Committee am ar 8 Medi 2022.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

[Rushanara Ali in the Chair]

Photo of Kevan Jones Kevan Jones Llafur, North Durham 11:30, 8 Medi 2022

On a point of order, Ms Ali. I bring good news to the Committee: yesterday, I met Stephen McPartland, who is alive and well. We asked why he did not attend the Committee, but we have not yet had an explanation from the Government. From what he told me, I understand that the reason why he was told to stay away was that he would not move part 3 of the Bill.

Related to that, however, we also raised the issue of losing a day last Tuesday because the Government insisted on adjourning the Committee. Has any thought been given to an extra day next week—if we need it—to complete the Bill’s proper scrutiny?

Photo of Maria Eagle Maria Eagle Llafur, Garston and Halewood

Further to that point of order, Ms Ali. On both occasions that the Committee met on Tuesday, although only for a short time and without being able to make any progress on the Bill, I asked the Minister in charge, the Government Whip, for an explanation of why the former Minister had not turned up to the Committee. Had he engaged in dereliction of his duty—he said he would stay in post until the new appointment and then did not turn up—or had he been asked to stay away? My right hon. Friend put forward—we would call this hearsay in the courts—an explanation that he heard from the hon. Gentleman in question, but I had asked the Whip to tell us. I think the Committee deserves to hear why that happened. Will one of the Ministers tell us what the Government’s explanation is? It has been requested since Tuesday.

Photo of Stewart Hosie Stewart Hosie Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Cabinet Office), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Constitution)

Further to that point of order, Ms Ali. The right hon. Member for North Durham made the request for additional time. Given how much is yet to be done, in particular the most contentious new clauses—contentious in the minds of some perhaps—especially relating to the public interest defence, which may take substantial time to deal with fully, will proper consideration be given to replacing at least the day lost earlier this week?

Photo of Thomas Tugendhat Thomas Tugendhat Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)

This is the first time that I have spoken on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government. It is an enormous privilege to be here. I realise that I enter this process—this lion’s den—at a moment when other lions have been through the Bill a few times before—there are an awful lot of Christians in this Committee and only one lion.

Before I say anything further, I pay enormous tribute to the Bill team, who have been phenomenal. The very fact that this has continued at all in such a professional way—

Photo of Thomas Tugendhat Thomas Tugendhat Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)

It has. That is because they have held it together and been a phenomenal asset to the Home Office. I am grateful to them.

On the various points that have been made, the hon. Member—

Photo of Thomas Tugendhat Thomas Tugendhat Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)

My apologies: the right hon. Gentleman. He is quite right. He asked some questions, as did the hon. Member for Garston and Halewood, or the right hon. Member for Garston and Halewood—

Photo of Thomas Tugendhat Thomas Tugendhat Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)

I will endeavour to find out what the reason is. You will understand, Ms Ali, that I was not appraised of this situation. I have spent rather a long time reading the Bill in the past 36 hours and not so much time asking about the movements of former Ministers.

On the point made by the right hon. Members for North Durham and for Dundee East about time, I will endeavour to do what I can to ensure that we have time available. Let us see how we go today. If time is needed, I will talk to the Whips team about it.

Photo of Rushanara Ali Rushanara Ali Llafur, Bethnal Green and Bow

The Minister has addressed the key points. I have nothing further to add in response to the point of order, so we will now begin our proceedings.