New Forest East


Dr Julian Lewis: I apologise for coming late to the debate. While what the Minister says is absolutely beyond question, does he accept that where the defence of the realm is concerned, certain other considerations must also apply?

[The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Andrew Griffiths): I thank my right hon. Friend, who as always makes a salient and sensible contribution to the debate. I agree with him wholeheartedly that the defence of our nation is the most important point in any of these decisions. As hon. Members have heard, the Enterprise Act 2002 grants Ministers statutory powers to intervene in mergers that give rise to public interest concerns only on the grounds of national security, financial stability or media plurality. The hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire South (Mhairi Black) raised the issue of that financial stability. It is the financial stability of the country’s economy as a whole. This Government take very seriously our responsibility to protect national security in particular, and we are robust in assessing any possible public interest concerns and carefully considering when those powers should be exercised. If necessary, they will be exercised. ... I will highlight that the Government are exploring proposals to strengthen our powers to scrutinise investment for national security purposes, which would bring our regime in line with those of other developed countries. The national security and infrastructure investment review that my hon. Friend talked about closed in January, and the Government will publish its firm proposals in a White Paper this year.]