House to examine strengthened national security measures as Procurement Bill progresses to report stage

Transformative new rules which rip up bureaucratic EU regulations for public sector procurement will be debated in the House of Commons today

Transformative new rules which rip up bureaucratic EU regulations for public sector procurement will be debated in the House of Commons today.

The Procurement Bill, which begins its report stage in the House of Commons, will make it easier for small businesses to win more of the £300bn of goods and services that the government buys each year.

The reforms proposed in the Bill will help mainstream innovation and innovative practices, improve the quality and efficiency of public services, and drive growth locally and nationally.

The Bill also introduces new rules to help the government procure in emergency situations to ensure that contracting authorities can act quickly and transparently to buy vital goods.

The simpler and more flexible rules take advantage of freedoms now that Britain has left the EU, as well as strengthening the ability to exclude suppliers who may have previously underperformed on government work.

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.”

The report stage comes after stepped up measures to protect national security in government contracts were announced last week.

Two new measures were tabled through amendments to the Bill:

  • Establishing a National Security Unit for Procurement. The new team, 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.
  • New powers to ban suppliers from specific sectors where they pose a risk to national security, such as areas related to defence and national security, while allowing them to continue to win procurements in non-sensitive areas.

In addition, the Government has committed to publishing a timeline for the removal of surveillance equipment produced by companies subject to China’s National Intelligence Law from sensitive central government sites.

The Bill also confirms that value for money remains paramount during contracting, whilst also encouraging buyers to take into account other relevant wider social and environmental considerations the supplier may bring.

To further underline how the Bill will help SMEs, the Cabinet Office has published a document outlining the benefits of the changes for prospective suppliers.

Cabinet Office
The Rt Hon Jeremy Quin MP