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Lords concludes line by line examination of National Security Bill

17 January 2023

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Members of the Lords concluded their detailed check of the National Security Bill in committee stage on Wednesday 18 January.

The National Security Bill will update the UK’s security measures and equip law enforcement and intelligence agenices to deal with modern and evolving threats from hostile states, including espionage, sabotage and foreign electoral interference.

Line by line examination

Committee stage is the first chance for line by line examination of the bill. 

Five days of consideration were scheduled for committee stage in the House of Lords.

Proposed changes

Members speaking on day five of committee stage put forward changes (PDF) (amendments) on subjects including:

  • acces to justice and legal aid
  • documenting when civil servants have raised safety concerns over ministerial appointments
  • reporting on disinformation from foreign powers.

Catch up

Explore further information

Read background on the bill in the House of Lords Library National Security Bill briefing.

Next steps

Report stage, an opportunity to closely scrutinise elements of the bill and make changes, is yet to be scheduled.

What's happened so far?

Committee stage day four: Monday 16 January

Proposed changes

Members speaking on day four of committee stage put forward changes (PDF) (amendments) on subjects including:

  • Home Office tier 1 visa scheme
  • raising concerns over ministerial appointments
  • appointing a body to review disinformation from foreign powers.

Catch up

Committee stage day three: Wednesday 11 January

Proposed changes

Members speaking on day three of committee stage put forward changes (amendments) on subjects including:

  • narrowing definitions used in the draft law
  • clarifying when officials may be given immunity when assisting or encouraging crimes
  • conditions on excluding the public from some court proceedings
  • creating a public interest defence for certain offences created by the bill, including disclosing protected information or trade secrets, or entering prohibited places.

Catch up

Committee stage day two: Wednesday 21 December

Proposed changes

Members speaking on day two of committee stage put forward amendments (PDF) (changes) to the bill to be discussed. 

These amendments covered a range of subjects, including

  • offences of aiding a hostile foreign power
  • definitions of terms in new offences created by the bill
  • requiring the government to report on the integrity of UK democratic processes
  • imposing duties on political parties regarding foreign interference in elections, such as identifying donations from a foreign power.

Catch up

Committee stage day one: Monday 19 December

Proposed changes

Members speaking on day one of committee stage put forward amendments (PDF) (changes) to the bill to be discussed. 

These amendments covered a range of subjects relating to tightening the scope of offences that would prejudice the safety and interests of the UK. Members discussed offences relating to obtaining or disclosing protected information, disclosing trade secrets and assisting a foreign intelligence service.

Catch up

Second reading: Tuesday 6 December

Members discussed the main issues in the bill and flagged up concerns or specific areas where they thought amendments (changes) were needed during second reading. 

Topics covered during the debate included:

  • human rights laws impacted by the bill
  • balancing security, freedoms and democracy
  • including a public interest defence in the bill to avoid convicting journalists, investigators, campaigners and whistleblowers
  • addressing foreign interference in British politics and elections
  • the potential impact of legal aid restrictions
  • the scope of clause 28 and its amendments to the Serious Crime Act.

Members speaking 

Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Conservative), opened the debate and responded on behalf of the government. 

Many members speaking in the debate have worked in, or closely with, the security services. Speakers included: 

Watch and read the debate 

Find out more more about the issues discussed: catch up on Parliament TV or read a the Lords Hansard transcript from three hours after the debate.  

Image: Adobe