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Second Attempt to Tweak Procurement Bill Targets Organ Harvesting by Lords

The government has agreed to provide annual reports to Parliament regarding the removal of Chinese CCTV cameras from “sensitive” public buildings.

On Monday, Peers attempted to ensure that suppliers involved in forced organ harvesting would be disqualified from receiving public contracts by reintroducing a clause to the Procurement Bill. Lord Hunt of Kings Heath proposed an amendment that was supported by the Lords with a vote of 156 to 151. The amendment allows decision makers to exclude suppliers found to be involved in forced organ harvesting or in any activities related to it. The amendment also provides a definition of forced organ harvesting as the killing of a person without their consent for the purpose of removing and transplanting their organs into another person.

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This vote followed the previous removal of the clause by the government, which holds the majority in the House of Commons. While the government acknowledges the need to address complicity in forced organ harvesting, they argue that another clause excluding suppliers involved in professional misconduct already covers this issue. However, supporters of the amendment believe that forced organ harvesting should be explicitly addressed. Lord Hunt stated that including this matter in the bill is crucial to ensure that public authorities have the power to address companies engaged in this abhorrent practice. He also highlighted evidence suggesting that taxpayers’ money has been spent on companies involved in forced organ harvesting, such as pharmaceutical companies supplying immunosuppressant drugs to hospitals that remove organs from prisoners of conscience.

Lord Hunt emphasized the necessity of his amendment, underscoring that the government’s policy toward China is inadequate to address the threats posed to the United Kingdom’s interests. The bill is currently in the “ping pong” stage of the legislative process, where it goes back and forth between the Commons and the Lords for minor adjustments. It is likely that the clause will be removed or watered down in later stages.

Additionally, the bill previously removed a provision in February that targeted Chinese surveillance camera brands, including Hikvision and Dahua, known for their involvement in mass surveillance, including in labor camps in Xinjiang. These companies, like all organizations in China, are subject to the regime’s national security law, which requires support and cooperation with national intelligence efforts, raising security concerns. Lord Alton of Liverpool’s amendment aimed to require ministers to publish a timeline for removing Chinese surveillance cameras from all public buildings, potentially involving tens of thousands of cameras. Although the clause was removed, the government later agreed to publish a timeline for removing these cameras from “sensitive central government sites.”

In the Lords discussion, Baroness Neville-Rolfe clarified that “sensitive sites” include buildings or complexes that hold secret material or above, locations with a significant number of officials holding developed vetting clearance, locations routinely used by ministers, and government locations covered by the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005. She also conceded to submitting annual reports to Parliament on the progress of removing Chinese cameras from sensitive sites. The decision not to mandate the removal of these cameras from all public sites was defended by Baroness Neville-Rolfe, arguing that places like recycling centers, leisure centers, schools, or hospitals are not typically targeted by hostile states. Lord Alton disagreed with this argument, stating that it is concerning if supermarkets show more awareness of the dangers posed by the Chinese Communist Party’s surveillance state than public bodies. Despite this, Lord Alton welcomed the government’s concessions and chose not to push further to reintroduce his amendment.

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