As part of my role as Government Whip, I have been working hard to ensure that the new National Security Bill makes it through the House. I’m therefore very pleased that it has now passed through the Commons and moved onto the Lords. This is an important stage in the progress of this vital bill, which will keep the people of this nation safe by introducing a full suite of new measures to tackle the full range of modern-day state threats, from sabotage and spying to foreign interference and economic espionage. For the first time, the bill will make it illegal to be an undeclared spy in the UK. It will be an offence to improperly interfere with the UK’s democracy and civil society through disinformation or by attacking our electoral processes. Attempting to sabotage our critical national infrastructure – either by damaging a government or military building or by directing a ransomware attack – will also be illegal under the new offences. Since the bill was introduced to the House of Commons, the government has added a new Foreign Influence Registration Scheme (FIRS), which will compel those acting for a foreign power or entity to declare any political influencing activity that they are carrying out – and criminalise those who do not. This will strengthen the resilience of the UK political system against covert foreign influence. The scheme will also enable the government to specify foreign powers, or entities they control, if they attempt to undermine the UK, its democracy and values. This will mean individuals or companies acting at their behest will be required to register any arrangements or activities with them – and face prosecution if they do not.
We have also brought forward legislation to better protect victims from abusers who share intimate images, strengthening protections for women and girls. It is unacceptable that women and girls can be harassed by intimate images they did not consent to sharing – it is absolutely right that this Government acts to protect them against this appalling behaviour. That is why we are bringing forward legislation to criminalise sharing ‘downblouse’ images and explicit images or videos which have been manipulated to look like someone without their consent, giving police greater powers to bring perpetrators to justice. We are committed to better protecting women and girls from such abuse and this legislation will ensure those responsible for these vile crimes are held to account and face potential time behind bars.
New figures show there are a record number of doctors and nurses working in the NHS in England. We are committed to delivering a properly funded health service with a strong workforce, providing quality care for everyone who needs it. That is why we have recruited over 9,000 more nurses and almost 4,000 more doctors since September 2021. However, I recognise that there is more work to do, and we need to ensure that this welcome news translates to more appointments, beds, and accessibility for people in North Cornwall.