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The UK Government is tightening procurement laws to protect sensitive sectors on national security grounds by setting up a new unit to investigate suppliers and creating new powers to ban suppliers from certain contracts.
New measures have been introduced as amendments to the Procurement Bill, which is currently going through Parliament.
The first measure is the creation of a National Security Unit for Procurement. The new team, which will be based in the Cabinet Office, will investigate suppliers who may pose a risk to national security, and assess whether companies should be barred from public procurements.
Second is the establishment of new powers to ban suppliers from specific sectors, such as areas related to defence and national security, while allowing them to continue to win procurements in non-sensitive areas.
As part of the new plan, the government is also committing to publish a timeline for the removal of surveillance equipment produced by companies subject to China’s National Intelligence Law from sensitive central government sites. This is in response to concerns over a potential security threat from some Chinese companies providing surveillance equipment to the public sector.
The amendments will need to secure approval from both houses of parliament before they become law.
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.”
Cabinet Office Minister Alex Burghart added: “The Procurement Bill puts the government in a stronger position to get the best deal for taxpayers, while prioritising growth by cutting red tape and removing barriers for small businesses.
“It’s absolutely right we continue to look at ways to strengthen central government rules when it comes to national security and I have no doubt these additional measures will ensure the Bill delivers on its objective to have a robust, modern procurement process which delivers for the British people.”