Sanctions

Kirsty Blackman Excerpts
Friday 24th May 2024

(1 month, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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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.