Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill Debate

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Department: Home Office
Alison Thewliss Portrait Alison Thewliss (Glasgow Central) (SNP)
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It is a pleasure to follow the expertise of the right hon. and learned Member for South Swindon (Sir Robert Buckland), who outlined in great detail the significance and importance of the new clauses. Yet again, the House has the opportunity to get it right, and to get it right now, today, rather than at some point or when parliamentary time allows or after consultation or in due course. Why not do it today?

I have heard no arguments from Ministers in Committee, on Second Reading or here this afternoon to excuse why it cannot be done today, now, with the new clauses that have been so diligently and expertly proposed by right hon. and hon. Members. As I said yesterday, these are cross-party new clauses. They are the most widely supported new clauses I have seen, and there is no reason why the Government cannot accept not only the proposals from this side of the House but the diligent work of their own Back Benchers on the new clauses. It makes absolute sense.

I support the Government amendments before us, both the correcting ones and those that allow Scottish Ministers and their responsibilities to be added to the Bill. It is good that they have been brought forward now, although I am slightly wary that that happened at such a late stage and that the problem had been missed. Regardless, I am happy to see them today. I also support the amendments on information sharing between agencies, which make sense.

I am, however, concerned that the Government will not accept the “failure to prevent” amendment. As I said in Committee, when the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Kevin Hollinrake) was a Back Bencher he was very supportive of the “failure to prevent” provisions, right up until 13 October 2022, when he said:

“Of all the measures we have talked about today, this would have the biggest effect in terms of cutting down on economic crime, because lots of our financial organisations are complicit when it suits their interests to be so.”—[Official Report, 13 October 2022; Vol. 720, c. 310.]

There is nothing in the Bill that would change that situation, but the new clause would. As I pointed out in Committee, now he is not just the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton but the Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. He has argued for a “failure to prevent” economic crime offence not just on 13 October last year, but on 7 July 2022, on 1, 22 and 28 February 2022, on 2 December 2021, on 9 November 2021, on 22 September 2021, on 18 May 2021, on 9 November 2020, on 25 February 2020, on 19 July 2019, on 23 April 2019, on 18 December 2018 and on 9 October 2018. Given that the hon. Gentleman has spent his parliamentary career arguing for this, it beggars belief that now he is a Minister with the power to implement it, he is not actually doing so.

Drew Hendry Portrait Drew Hendry (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey) (SNP)
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These are very important points. Given their importance, should the Minister not put down his phone and listen to what my hon. Friend is saying?

Alison Thewliss Portrait Alison Thewliss
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One Minister is on his phone and the other—the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton—is sitting at the back of the Chamber having a gab. This is not ideal, but perhaps the Minister has already heard what I have to say and does not want to hear it again.

“O, wad some Power the giftie gie us

To see oursels as others see us!”