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The National Security Bill 2022-23 was introduced in the House of Commons on 11 May 2022. It had second reading on 6 June. It was considered by a Public Bill Committee over 14 sittings between July and October and is scheduled to have its remaining stages on 16 November.

What does the Bill do?

The Bill would replace existing counter-espionage laws with a comprehensive framework for countering hostile state activity analogous to the counter-terrorism framework established since 2000. It would also limit the availability of civil legal aid and damages to those connected with terrorist activity.

It would implement a number of recommendations made by the Law Commission and the Intelligence and Security Committee, and was broadly welcomed at second reading.

Amendments in Committee

Significant Government amendments were tabled in Committee, including:

  • The extension of financial investigation powers to state threat investigations;
  • The establishment of a foreign influence registration scheme aimed at deterring foreign power use of covert arrangements, activities and proxies, by requiring greater transparency around activities directed by foreign powers or entities; and
  • The creation of new offences relating to obtaining material benefits from a foreign intelligence service.

The amendments were generally welcomed and there were no divisions in Committee.

Members were critical of the decision to introduce such significant amendments after second reading and of the lack of explanatory memoranda accompanying them.

The Government committed to giving further consideration to a number of issues that were the subject of opposition amendments, including the implementation of the Law Commission’s recommendations regarding reform of the Official Secrets Act 1989 and the introduction of a public interest defence.

Further information

For a full background briefing on the Bill see the Library Briefing Paper prepared in advance of second reading: National Security Bill 2022-2023.

The Bill as amended is available on the Bill page together with other relevant documents. This paper refers to clause numbers from the Bill as introduced in the House of Commons unless otherwise specified.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights reported on the Bill in October 2022 Legislative Scrutiny: National Security Bill

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