Stephen Kinnock: Thank you, Mr Hollobone. I thank the Minister for the diligent way in which he is dealing with this matter.
We support the regulations. It is vital that the Government take a tough line on terrorism and use all the instruments at their disposal to limit the ability of terrorists to operate. That includes sanctioning individuals and prohibiting certain activities, such as those that have been laid out today.
To that end, we are satisfied that, as the Minister has explained, the regulations will aid the investigation and prevention of terrorist financing, prevent designated persons acting as charity trustees and managing or operating sensitive financial enterprises, and enable the effective implementation of legal, operational and regulatory measures for combating terrorist financing. We recognise the need for those new provisions, as they ensure that our legislation will be effective once the transition period comes to an end.
Having said that, for sanctions to be effective and robust they should not operate in isolation, and should instead be applied in close co-ordination with our democratic allies and partners, not least the European Union. What conversations is the Minister having, and what mechanisms are being put in place, to ensure that the UK is working hand in hand with the EU to apply the co-ordinated approach to sanctions that we know makes them so much more effective? There is little hope of the sanctions working effectively unless liberal democracies —particularly our EU partners and us—work together effectively to apply pressure.
What additional work is the Minister doing to strengthen the UK’s sanctions regime? The Opposition are very pleased that the Government have finally implemented the so-called Magnitsky sanctions against many human rights abusers, but we have two concerns. First, the legislation does not include corruption. Foreign Office Ministers say that they are looking into including corruption in the scope of the legislation, but could the Minister provide an update on when we might expect an answer on whether it can be included?
Secondly, the sanctions do not appear to be applied across the board. It took the Government just a matter of days to sanction Belarusian officials following the rigged elections and crackdown that ensued, but we have yet to see any Chinese Communist party officials on the sanctions list, despite clear and apparent human rights violations in Xinjiang and Hong Kong. The Government have stated that they are looking into that, but could the Minister provide an update?
We are content for the the terrorist financing definition to be brought up to date. As a Minister recently put it, that allows the Government,
“under Section 49 of the sanctions Act to facilitate the prevention, detection or investigation of terrorist financing, following the revocation of a number of the current offences by the 2019 regulations.”—[Official Report, House of Lords, 29 October 2020; Vol. 807, c. 402.]
However, why did the revocation of these offences occur, and why was everything that we are going through not dealt with in the 2019 legislation the first time around? I thank the Minister for his time, and I look forward to future dialogue on these important issues.