Government announces measures to strengthen Procurement Bill
The new measures to protect national security are being brought forward
The Cabinet Office announced on 7 June that the government has tabled amendments to the Procurement Bill to bring forward measures to strengthen national security in government contracts.
The two new measures are: the establishment of a National Security Unit for Procurement, which will be based in the Cabinet Office, and will investigate suppliers who may pose a risk to national security, and assess whether companies should be barred from public procurements; and new powers to ban suppliers from specific sectors, such as areas related to defence and national security, while allowing them to continue to be involved in procurement in non-sensitive areas.
In practice, the new provisions will enable ministers to consider the risk profile of suppliers during the procurement process for government contracts and allow for certain types of contracts to be identified on the supplier debarment list that a specific entity will not be allowed to bid for. The new unit’s responsibilities will include proactively monitoring the supplier landscape and recommending suppliers that should be investigated for debarment.
Alongside the announcement, the government has also committed to publishing a timeline for the removal of certain surveillance equipment, produced by entities subject to China’s National Intelligence Law, from sensitive government sites.
Commenting on the new measures, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General Jeremy Quin said: “Protecting the nation’s security has always been the government’s number one job. These new measures will protect our sensitive sectors from companies which could threaten national security and are a firm deterrence to hostile actors who wish to do Britain harm. This builds on the robust rules within the Procurement Bill to hold suppliers to account and ensure that the taxpayer is protected.”