Friday 24th May 2024

(3 weeks, 1 day ago)

Commons Chamber
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09:39
Anne-Marie Trevelyan Portrait The Minister of State, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (Anne-Marie Trevelyan)
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I beg to move,

That the Sanctions (EU Exit) (Miscellaneous Amendments and Revocations) Regulations 2024 (SI, 2024, No. 643), dated 14 May, a copy of which was laid before this House on 15 May, be approved.

In recent years, the UK has transformed its use of sanctions. We have deployed sanctions in innovative and impactful ways, including in our response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. We have taken a rigorous approach, carefully targeted to deter and disrupt malign behaviour, and to demonstrate our defence of international norms. This statutory instrument covers several measures that will strengthen our sanctions regimes across the board and allow us to continue the work already being implemented across Government. I will run through each measure in turn.

First, in October 2023 the Government added a new type of sanction, the director disqualification sanctions, to the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018. This instrument uses that power to amend the UK’s autonomous sanctions regimes, which will mean that the Government can apply it to individuals designated under these regimes. It will be an offence for a designated person subject to this new measure to act as a director of a company or to take part in the management, formation or promotion of a company. This will further prevent those sanctioned from deriving benefit from the UK economy. It is an important addition to the UK sanctions toolkit. This instrument provides Ministers with the flexibility to apply the new measure on a case-by-case basis. The Government will ensure that the measure is targeted and operates alongside the UK’s full suite of sanction powers.

This instrument also enables the Government to issue licences to persons to allow them to undertake activity that is otherwise prohibited. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has been working closely with the Department for Business and Trade, Companies House and the Insolvency Service on the implementation of this measure.

The SI will also clarify the sanctions enforcement remit of His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. HMRC has well-established responsibilities for enforcing trade sanctions in its capacity as the UK customs authority. In recent years, however, the scope of trade sanctions has evolved beyond import and export prohibitions, to include matters that are outside HMRC’s customs remit such as sanctions on stand-alone services.

Last December, the Government announced the decision to establish the Office of Trade Sanctions Implementation, within the Department for Business and Trade, in order to enforce these new types of measures under the civil law. Once it starts operating, OTSI will also be able to refer serious offences to HMRC for criminal enforcement consideration. HMRC will continue to have both civil and criminal enforcement responsibility for sanctions within its customs remit. This legislation is needed to clarify the sanctions measures for which HMRC is solely responsible for enforcing and those which it will investigate on referral from OTSI or another civil enforcement organisation.

Alicia Kearns Portrait Alicia Kearns (Rutland and Melton) (Con)
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The sanctioning of the shadow fleet is an issue of great importance to the Foreign Affairs Committee, so I thank the Government for introducing this really important legislation. May I also thank you, Mr Speaker, for your support of the Foreign Affairs Committee during this Parliament, and put on the record my thanks to an incredible Committee that it has been an incredible honour to chair? I thank in particular my Clerk, Chris Shaw, who is truly incredible, as well as the rest of the Committee, who have been wonderful. On behalf of the Committee, I also thank the Government for all they have done on Ukraine, showing the leadership that means that Ukraine is still standing and fighting.

Will my right hon. Friend the Minister confirm that this is not just about tackling money and profits going into the Russian coffers, but about violations of maritime law, and that is why today’s sanctions are so very important and why the Government are showing yet again that we will always stand by Ukraine?

Anne-Marie Trevelyan Portrait Anne-Marie Trevelyan
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I thank my hon. Friend for her intervention and, indeed, for her very kind words towards those who do a huge amount of work behind the scenes to enable us to bring forward a rolling level of sanctions legislation, which has continued to degrade Putin’s ability to fund his war. We believe that sanctions across the piece have taken some £400 billion out of his capabilities. It is a continuum, and today’s legislation continues that. She is absolutely right. The sanctions will continue to be tools that help us in many ways to keep ahead of those who wish us harm and who wish to support Putin in his illegal war in Ukraine, and to continue to hunt them down and to restrict their capacity.

Barry Sheerman Portrait Mr Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) (Lab/Co-op)
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The Minister and I have worked on various things over the years. Those of us in all parties who are passionate about sanctions are still extremely worried about certain significant people in this country. A recent article in The Times suggested that a hereditary peer in the House of Lords is a main channel of Russian money helping certain political factions not only in this country but in the United States. Is it not about time that we did something about the upper House, which seems to have a small group of pro-Putin Members?

Anne-Marie Trevelyan Portrait Anne-Marie Trevelyan
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The hon. Gentleman has, as he says, been an incredible champion and supporter of all the work we have been doing cross-party to keep ahead of the sanctions. I know it is frustrating, but as I always say, people should pass evidence of any sort about individuals they consider are supportive of or enabling Putin, his regime or any military activity to the teams in the FCDO, which look day in, day out at being able to bring forward a package of evidence that would withstand judicial review. We stand ready. I will never comment on what we are taking in and what might come next, but the teams are working flat out to look at the evidence wherever they can. That is a continuum. I say that not only to Members of this House but more widely to those out on the frontline or working with businesses; where they see areas in which they believe that is happening, they should bring the information to us.

Barry Sheerman Portrait Mr Sheerman
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Will the Minister accept some evidence I have about the Earl of Oxford and Asquith that I think should be urgently considered by all of us careful and worried about sanctions?

Anne-Marie Trevelyan Portrait Anne-Marie Trevelyan
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If the hon. Gentleman would like to write to me later today, I will make sure that the team looks at the information as soon as possible.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. I know it is the final day for the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr Sheerman), but we still have rules in this House about being critical of Members of another House. Could he still use that caution, even on his last day in the House?

Anne-Marie Trevelyan Portrait Anne-Marie Trevelyan
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Thank you, Mr Speaker.

This legislation is needed to clarify the sanction measures for which HMRC is solely responsible for enforcing on those it would investigate on referral from OTSI. It will therefore establish a consistent approach to the enforcement of trade sanctions. It will facilitate HMRC and OTSI working in close partnership so that they can robustly enforce all trade sanctions against Russia and other target countries using civil and criminal powers.

On the financial sanctions side, the statutory instrument also includes new obligations for persons designated under the Belarus regime to report any assets they own, hold or control in the UK or worldwide as a UK person to the relevant authorities. The measure is another step in improving the transparency of assets owned, held or controlled in the UK by designated persons and will strengthen the ability of HM Treasury’s Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation—OFSI—to implement and enforce UK financial sanctions.

Importantly, the measure will act as a dual verification by enabling the comparison of disclosures by designated persons against existing reporting requirements that bite on firms such as financial institutions. Under the new requirement, the Government will be able to penalise those who make deliberate attempts to conceal assets to escape the effects of sanctions. An equivalent reporting obligation was placed on designated persons under the Russia regime in December 2023. The extension of this requirement to Belarus ensures alignment between the Russia and Belarus regimes, which is particularly vital given the frequent overlap of the Belarus and Russia sanctions regimes and the co-operation between the two states in relation to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

We have also included several sanctions on Belarus on the export of so-called battlefield goods, which include goods such as electronic equipment, integrated circuits and firearms and aerospace technology. These new measures prohibit the import of Belarusian aluminium into the UK—both the metal itself and aluminium products. Aluminium products are a sector of strategic importance to Belarus and have been its top export to the UK. Although the UK nexus with the Belarusian economy is limited, the signalling impact of our sanctions on Belarus is, and will remain, important. We keep these sanctions under constant review and reserve the right to introduce further measures so that the Lukashenko regime continues to feel the consequences of its lack of respect for human rights and its support for Putin’s war.

Finally, we are also revoking the Burundi sanctions regime. That will remove an empty regime from the statute books. The decision in 2019 not to transpose into UK law designations under the original 2015 EU sanctions regime reflected the improved political situation in Burundi. We do not have the same level of concern about the widespread political violence in Burundi that led to the original decision to impose the regime, so we have made no designations under it. As we set out in the recent UK sanctions strategy, the Government keep their regimes under review and respond to changing circumstances. We are committed to lifting a regime out of a specific measure or revoking a designation when the original objective is no longer served by its continuance.

To conclude, sanctions continue to play an important part in the UK, which continues to build on its already impressive sanctions capability. In the years since the landmark Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018, our approach to sanctions has evolved considerably to respond to the changes in the world. We will continue to work on sanctions to meet any new challenges. I commend the regulations to the House.

09:50
Catherine West Portrait Catherine West (Hornsey and Wood Green) (Lab)
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May I echo your comments, Mr Speaker, about the Deputy Speakers who are, sadly, stepping down at the snap general election? I also thank the Minister for setting out the purpose of the regulations, for her general cross-party working, and for her assurance that the Security Minister and the Treasury are looking at such sanctions, because they need a cross-Government approach. I also echo her comments about the excellent work of officials at the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation.

Labour supports the necessary and common-sense steps being taken in the statutory instrument. We will not seek to divide the House on it, although it might have been nice to have considered it last week, rather than this morning, from the point of view of one’s nerves. As a party, we have consistently supported the Government in expanding the UK sanctions regime as it relates to a variety of countries, but particularly Russia since the unlawful and barbaric invasion of Ukraine.

We have also been candid and honest where we think that Ministers are not going far enough or have acted too slowly in holding global actors to account, or where there are considerable loopholes in our regimes that they continue to exploit. When it comes to the integrity of our sanctions regime, we have made it clear that Labour will work assiduously with partners and allies to counter the plethora of threats posed by actors across the world, will ensure proper enforcement, and will bring about the seizure of Russian state assets for the purpose of supporting Ukrainian reconstruction.

Before turning to the measures, I will raise a more general issue that my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff South and Penarth (Stephen Doughty), the shadow Minister for Europe, has brought to our attention on several occasions. On the enforcement of monetary penalties for breaches of the UK sanctions regime, the OFSI website shows that only one penalty has been issued against the Russian regime since the start of the war in Ukraine. Can the Minister elucidate whether that is the case? Is the website out of date, or is there another reason why our enforcement is woefully low—in comparison with the USA, for example? I hope that she can supply clarity on that.

Labour supports the measures. They will prevent a designated person being a director of a company or overseeing the promotion, formation or management of companies, which is a necessary step in dismantling the ecosystem of illicit finance in which designated persons skirt sanctions and retain access to their wealth.

I ask the Minister for clarity on one point. Concerns have been raised by hon. Members on both sides of the House about the issuing of licences that grant designated persons dispensation to become exempt from given provisions. Can she clarify whether there will be ministerial oversight of the granting of those licences? Will the Treasury, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and the Department for Business and Trade work in lockstep to ensure cohesion and co-ordination when it comes to their granting? Last year, revelations came to light regarding a licence issued to none other than Yevgeny Prigozhin that allowed him to sue a UK journalist. That is what can happen when licences are issued without proper scrutiny. I hope that the Minister can provide clarity on their granting.

We also support the measures relating to the mandate of His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs on Belarus, as well as the new reporting obligation on persons designated under the asset freeze to disclose the value and nature of any funds or economic resources that they own, hold or control in the UK. We also support the prohibition of export from the UK of items critical to Russian weapon systems and military development, in addition to certain aerospace goods; the prohibition of Belarusian aluminium imports; and the ban on the provision of ancillary services.

Why has it taken so long to bring in those prohibition measures? It seems unconscionable that well over two years since the onset of the war in Ukraine—do not forget that the House’s Belarusian concerns were raised before then—UK items that could be used in Russian weaponry are making their way via Belarus to the frontlines, potentially aiding and abetting Russia’s war effort against the people of Ukraine. We understand that any sanctions regime is a work in progress, but we cannot continue to countenance UK exports filtering through to Putin and the cronies who facilitate his war machine, especially given the situation in and around Kharkiv at present.

I thank the Minister for setting out the measures, though, as I said, they could have come earlier. I hope that she can provide clarity on the concerns that I raised. Labour will continue to support further expansion of our sanctions regime, but it is becoming ever clearer that the actions that we take today will have lasting ramifications. In devising such actions in the next Parliament, we will strive to be even bolder, swifter and more ambitious.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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We come to a maiden speech. I call Chris Webb.

09:56
Chris Webb Portrait Chris Webb (Blackpool South) (Lab)
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Thank you, Mr Speaker. When it was announced that I was the winner of the Blackpool South by-election at 5.15 am on 3 May, I called on the Prime Minister to hold a general election and give the rest of the country the same chance that my constituents had to vote for change and elect a new Labour Government. I thank the Prime Minister for taking me up on that, although I had not expected to be back out on the campaign trail quite so soon. I ask the whole House to join me in showing solidarity with my amazing—and now long-suffering—wife Portia, who has been at my side throughout with our amazing three-month-old son Cillian, who has brought so much joy and laughter to our lives.

Mr Speaker, I am grateful for this opportunity to stand before you, at short notice. It was the last opportunity to do so before a general election; had I not taken it, I risked a lifetime of being an answer to an obscure pub quiz question. I relish getting back on the doorsteps and speaking with fellow residents.

I thank my predecessor Scott Benton and his staff for all their work and support of local residents. I also thank Gordon Marsden for his personal support and tireless work in Blackpool South during his 22 years of service. Gordon is still fondly remembered and recognised for his huge contribution to my constituency and his pursuit of everyone having access to lifelong learning.

I would not be here today without two teachers who inspired and supported me as a young student with undiagnosed dyslexia. They helped me get to Hull University and on the road to this Chamber. Stephen Conway and Ken Winstanley, I thank you. I would also like to pay special tribute to Anne Hoyer, a Labour giant on the Fylde coast who we sadly lost last week.

The first Blackpool constituency was created in 1885, a decade after the opening of the railway began to bring an influx of visitors to our town. In 1945, a separate Blackpool South constituency was created; it became clear that it had an identity of its own. It is home to the famous pleasure beach, Blackpool tower and three piers. It has beaches with golden sands and, locals would argue, the best ice cream to be found anywhere at Notarianni’s, which has served tourists and locals since 1928.

I am a child of tourism, my mum having moved to Blackpool to become a redcoat in the 80s, but I am also a child of public service. My dad was a Blackpool postie who wanted to help and support fellow workers in Royal Mail, and then those in BT and others throughout the Communication Workers Union. Thanks to the last Labour Government, my mum was able to retrain for free and became an early years teaching assistant at my primary school—her dream job. Before them, there was my paternal nan, Val Harman, a scout leader who dedicated her life to inspiring young people; my paternal grandfather, Brian Harman, who was a local independent councillor and who, at 83 years old, is still heavily involved in his local community centre in Burntwood; and my paternal grandfather, Dougie Webb, who served in world war two, fighting fascism in Europe and Africa, and who once guarded Winston Churchill at Chequers—all of them public servants.

While I was tracing my paternal grandmother’s history, I was amazed to find out how deep my family’s public service roots go. I discovered that my 14th great-grandfather, Edmund Moody, saved the life of Henry VIII. The King, out hunting with his hawk, tried to reach over a ditch with a pole, which broke. Edmund, a footman of the King’s, leapt into the water and saved him from drowning. Sadly, the £6 a year pension and the land that he received as a reward did not stretch far enough to help his descendant, my nan Margaret Webb, who had a tough life growing up in Liverpool. I was raised not on stories of brave footmen who saved kings, but on the stories of my nan and her sisters, who wore newspapers for shoes and battled TB during wartime without an NHS.

Through grit, determination and the welfare reforms of a progressive Labour Government, my nan and granddad were able to move into one of the first council houses built in Blackpool in the ’50s, in Grange Park. She went on to run a small business in Blackpool’s famous Abingdon Street market. Having grown up without proper healthcare, she knew the value of our NHS and how vital it is that we protect it. I will make it my mission in this place to do so in her memory.

Since the pandemic, Blackpool has seen record numbers of visitors rightly returning to our beloved seaside town, which has so much to offer, but while tourism recovery is central to our town’s future, it is time to focus on the recovery of our communities beyond the prom. After years of austerity, and now during the cost of living crisis, all too often, the town that I am proud to call home is recognised as being at the sharp end of statistics for poverty, crime, mental ill health, low life expectancy and more. I will work tirelessly for those communities—hopefully in the next Parliament, too—and I hope to prove that politics has the power to change people’s lives.

My heartfelt thanks go out to the people of Blackpool South, who put their trust in me on 2 May and elected me as their Blackpool born and bred Member of Parliament. My hometown’s motto is “Progress”. The town that pioneered municipal street lighting, electric tramways and modern tourism for the working classes has continued to forge ahead, even with deep spending cuts. Blackpool South now has a Labour MP. Under what I hope is an imminent Labour Government, I will fight to make sure that progress is possible for everyone in Blackpool, inspiring the next generation.

With economic stability, families in Blackpool South, where a third of children live in poverty, will not have to choose between heating and eating. Cuts to NHS waiting times will mean that those in Blackpool South, where people are twice as likely to die from heart disease by the age of 75 as people in wealthy areas, will be able to see a doctor when they need to. Hundreds more police on the streets will mean that in Blackpool, where weapon and knife offences have increased by more than 400% since 2015, safety will be restored to our communities.

But those painful statistics tell only half the story. Anyone from Blackpool will tell you to look behind the headlines, and beyond the bright lights of the illuminations, to find the real story of our town. It is alive with grassroots creativity and culture, has a thriving LGBTQ+ community, and a wealth of fascinating lives that could only have been lived in Blackpool. It is a story of community resilience, and of people who, with very little themselves, are always willing to give to someone else who has less. We have a wealth of community organisations and charities working hard to improve lives in Blackpool South. For their dedication to the town, I would like to thank Counselling in the Community and its inspirational founder Stuart Hutton-Brown; Blackpool Food Bank; Fylde Coast Women’s Aid; Reclaim Blackpool; Skool of Street; Blackpool Street Angels; Boathouse Youth; the Friends of Stanley Park; the St Peter’s Church soup kitchen; and many others too numerous to mention.

In closing, I would not be standing here today without the support of our good friend and my mentor, Tony Lloyd. Tony was an incredible northern Labour parliamentarian who we sadly lost at the start of this year. “For me, politics is all about people,” Tony once told me. “It’s that sense of human solidarity that matters. If it’s not about making people’s lives better, don’t be a politician.” I am sad that he is not here to see me take my seat, but I will honour Tony’s memory by serving my constituents in the same way that he served his, with people at the heart of my politics.

10:04
James Heappey Portrait James Heappey (Wells) (Con)
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I rise to speak briefly on sanctions, but before I do so, I congratulate the hon. Member for Blackpool South (Chris Webb) on an excellent maiden speech. It is my privilege to give my final speech on the back of such a brilliant first speech. Although I am sure that those in Conservative central office will have other ideas, I hope it is the first of many speeches he gives in this House.

This place matters in terms of the way the UK competes with our adversaries and those who challenge us all around the world. It is not just what the Government do through the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, our embassies and other Departments. It is important that Parliament shows its resolve. As any colleague in the House who has had the pleasure of travelling to do the Government’s business overseas will know, we are routinely beaten up by Ministers in foreign countries for things that are said on these Benches. Therefore, the resolve of the House to give resolute support to the Government of the day on our foreign policy is enormously important. We do that through not just the employment of our military, with whom it has been my great pleasure to work during the past four years, but the way we pull all the levers of government to achieve effect, through both hard and soft power, all around the world. Therefore, at the back end of this Parliament, these are important measures before us today and it is right that they are being put through with cross-party consensus.

My personal circumstances mean that I cannot be here later today, Mr Speaker, so I hope you will indulge me if I say one or two quick thank yous as I draw my parliamentary account to a close. As I segue from the strategic and the international, I wish, first, to thank all of those ministerial colleagues with whom I have had the pleasure of serving over the past four years, as we have gone through an incredible period of challenge to our nation. I have served alongside many who have made me a better person, through all their expertise and all that they have been able to teach me, but none more so than my right hon. Friend the Member for Wyre and Preston North (Mr Wallace). I have worked alongside him in some of the darkest moments our nation has faced in generations, during the pandemic, the Kabul airlift and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and that will stick with me as one of the proudest times of my life. It was a great honour to serve alongside you, Secretary of State.

I also wish to thank my partner, family and friends, particularly my children, Charlie and Tilly, for all their love and support over the past nine years. I thank my staff, both in my constituency office and here in Westminster. I thank those in the Wells Conservative Association for their support and kindness. I thank my constituents for sending me here; whether or not they voted for me, representing them has been a huge privilege.

As you know well, Mr Speaker, our public discourse is changing for the worse and there is a toxicity to it now that means it requires real bravery to come to sit on these Benches. You have been a great protector of this House and of those who have the courage to sit on these green Benches, to speak up for their opinions and their constituencies, and to try to make a positive difference for those they represent and our country at large. Thank you for your leadership and guidance during this very difficult Parliament. Thank you for all your support—and for the occasional bollocking when I have gone for too long at the Dispatch Box.

I thank all colleagues, on both sides of the House. When we have disagreed, it has always been with courtesy and respect. Not enough people beyond this place see that that is the way the affairs of this House are mostly conducted. Most of all, I wish all good fortune and success to all those who will arrive here in July—in particular, my successor in the new seat of Wells and Mendip Hills—having been returned to represent their communities and to make a difference on behalf of this country, in what will be incredibly challenging times. It has been a great pleasure and a real honour to serve here.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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It is a sad day. I call the Scottish National party spokesperson.

10:09
Kirsty Blackman Portrait Kirsty Blackman (Aberdeen North) (SNP)
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I congratulate the hon. Member for Blackpool South (Chris Webb) on his maiden speech. Normally after a maiden speech, we stand up and say “I am sure the new Member will be a doughty campaigner for his constituents,” and I am sure he will for a week! I wish him all the best and hope he is returned to this place. I also send best wishes to his son and his wife Portia. Being the spouse of a politician is probably the worst job in the world. It is incredibly difficult and I cannot imagine the rollercoaster she has been on in the past few weeks, so I send my solidarity to her particularly as she is dealing with the joys and otherwise of having a very young child to look after. I congratulate the hon. Gentleman.

If you do not mind, Mr Speaker, I would like to offer some brief thank yous; I will probably be speaking on the tribunals measure later, but now would be a more appropriate time for this, given the mood of the House. I thank a few of my colleagues who will no longer be in this place after the election. First, I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow North (Patrick Grady), who during my time as deputy leader was the Chief Whip of the SNP. He was my confidante and my rock. We had many late-night sessions planning parliamentary mischief, not least in advance of the SNP walk-out that I think a number of people will remember very well. I appreciate everything he did for me during that time.

I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Glenrothes (Peter Grant), who is probably not someone who will be remembered for setting the heather on fire in this place, but he has done absolutely everything that has needed to be done and everything asked of him, he has dealt with some incredibly technical legislation and he has always been there with words of advice whenever they were needed. I also thank my right hon. Friend the Member for Dundee East (Stewart Hosie), who has been in this place for a long time; he will be stepping back from frontline politics but I am sure not from the SNP. He has similarly been a huge source of advice and, although we have had some very good-natured disagreements, I have huge respect for everything he has done, particularly for the SNP as a whole, and I have no doubt he will carry on doing that.

On a very personal note, I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire South (Mhairi Black), who has been one of my closest friends in this place and whose departure I have not quite reconciled myself with and I am not sure I will ever get over. I will miss her incredibly; I intend to come back to this place and she does not. I will miss her a huge amount.

On this specific debate and the sanctions regime, my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow Central (Alison Thewliss) is not here today but has done a huge amount of work, as I am sure Members across the House will recognise, particularly on issues such as beneficial ownership and Scottish limited partnerships. We have concerns in relation to sanctions and this legislation represents a good step in closing some of the loopholes that friends and colleagues have been raising. In 2022, about 1,300 Scottish limited partnerships were started, only four of which were started by Scots. We have been campaigners on Scottish limited partnerships and have massive concerns still about the SLP regime and the fact it is used for money laundering in significant numbers. Despite their being called Scottish limited partnerships, they are technically nothing to do with Scotland, which is why we need Westminster to take action. It would be great if whoever is in the next Government could crack down on the abuses in SLPs.

We are pleased with some of the action taken on beneficial ownership but we do not think we are there yet. We need to ensure that #the sanctions regimes and everything associated with them are applied appropriately. If we do not know who actually owns something, it is very difficult to say that they cannot own it.

Progress is being made on the Companies House issues that we have mentioned before, but again, my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow Central would make it clear that things have not gone far or fast enough in the reform of Companies House. Again, that is about transparency. When the Minister was speaking, she very much stressed transparency in the sanctions regime, and I am pleased with any moves that improve transparency. Clearly, we will not be opposing the SI today—I think it is a good thing—but there is still more to be done to ensure that sanctions regimes work appropriately, so that those people who should not be able to have directorships or ownership, or to money launder or make money through the UK, because we have designated them as responsible for or aiding war crimes or human rights abuses, cannot do so. There is more to do to increase that transparency so that those people can be cracked down on.

Lastly on sanctions, we are still concerned that the UK Government have been too slow to increase the number of individuals who have been sanctioned. Other jurisdictions have significantly higher numbers of individuals who have been sanctioned, particularly from areas such as Russia. I appreciate the number of statements that the UK Government have made and the number of actions they have taken, particularly around Ukraine and the hard work that has been done to support its people, which I know is appreciated by people in the Ukrainian Government. However, I still think more could be done to ensure that this place is saying to Russia, “Your actions are inappropriate, and we are going to hit you where it hurts financially by increasing the number of individuals who are sanctioned—who are subject to those financial penalties and the inability to move money or have companies in these islands.”

I thank the Minister for bringing this SI forward today, and make clear that the SNP is absolutely supportive of it. Following the election, we look forward to significantly more work being done to tighten those loopholes and increase the number of individuals who are subject to sanctions.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That the Sanctions (EU Exit) (Miscellaneous Amendments and Revocations) Regulations 2024 (SI, 2024, No. 643), dated 14 May, a copy of which was laid before this House on 15 May, be approved.