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Terrorist Asset-Freezing

Volume 513: debated on Thursday 15 July 2010

Following a ruling by the Supreme Court and the passage of temporary asset-freezing legislation in February 2010, the Government are today introducing the Terrorist Asset-Freezing etc Bill in the House of Lords to put the UK’s terrorist asset-freezing regime on a secure legislative footing. The Bill will be published tomorrow.

The Bill has been informed by a public consultation exercise on draft legislation that was launched by the previous Government. The Government are today publishing by Command Paper the consultation responses received and the Government’s response.

The payment of state benefits to the spouses of designated persons

As a result of concerns raised in consultation responses and in Parliament during the discussion of emergency asset-freezing legislation and in the light of a recent European Court of Justice ruling, the Government are from today removing restrictions imposed by the previous Government on the payment of state benefits to the spouses of people who are subject to an asset-freeze (designated persons).

This Government do not believe that the asset-freezing regime should affect state benefits paid to the spouses or partners of designated persons. They do not believe that such restrictions are necessary to prevent terrorist finance and they are concerned at the impact they may have on other family members and on family life.

The Government are embedding this change in law by including a provision in the Bill to clarify that payments of state benefits to the spouses or partners of people designated by the Treasury under the UK’s domestic asset-freezing regime are not caught by asset-freezing provisions. These payments will therefore no longer have to be made under licence from the Treasury.

The Government believe that this approach will ensure that the asset-freezing regime is fairer and more proportionate, while remaining effective in preventing terrorist finance.