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Energy Act 2008

New section 80A Extension of the Official Secrets Acts to certain places

590.Subsection (1) of this new section provides that certain premises holding sensitive nuclear information, should be deemed as belonging to, or used for the purposes of, the Crown. This will allow the Secretary of State to make an order designating those premises holding uranium enrichment technology as “prohibited places” by virtue of section 3(c) of the Official Secrets Act 1911 (c.28). Subsection (1) is a necessary part of the section because only premises belonging to, or used for the purposes of, the Crown may be designated as “prohibited places” under section 3(c) of the Official Secrets Act 1911.

591.The overall effect of designating these premises as prohibited places is to extend the Official Secrets Acts’ offences and sanctions to persons gaining entry, or attempting to gain entry, to those premises.

592.The penalty for breach of the Official Secrets Act 1911 (c.28), by virtue of section 8(1) of the Official Secrets Act 1920 (c.75), is a custodial sentence of not less than 3 years and not more than 14 years. Section 1(2) of the Official Secrets Act 1911 sets out that in prosecuting persons under the Act, it is not necessary to prove that a person broke into that “prohibited place” for a purpose which would adversely affect the security interests of the State. Once orders are made by the Secretary of State designating certain premises as prohibited places, the protection afforded by section 1(2) will apply. This reflects the potential impact on national security.

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