My honourable friend the Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Ed Balls) has made the following Written Statement.
In my Written Ministerial Statement of 10 October 2006, I undertook to report to Parliament on a quarterly basis on the operation of the UK's asset-freezing regime. This is the first of these reports and covers the period October to December 20061.
The following changes have been made to asset-freezing legislation:
Terrorism (United Nations Measures) Order 2006, made in October; and
Al-Qaeda and Taliban (United Nations Measures) Order 2006, made in November.
These two orders updated the previous orders, as I explained in Statements to the House on 10 October and 7 November 2006.
The Treasury has also strengthened the asset-freezing regime by agreeing, on the advice of law enforcement and intelligence agencies, to use closed-source evidence in cases where there are strong operational reasons to impose a freeze but insufficient open-source evidence available. I notified Parliament of this decision in October.
In the quarter October to December 2006, the Treasury made seven domestic designations under the terrorism order and the al-Qaeda and Taliban order. Of these, two persons already listed were re-designated under the new orders. The terrorism order and the al-Qaeda and Taliban order provide, where appropriate, for designations to be made confidentially and with restricted circulation of notice. Four persons were listed on this basis. Two persons were listed on the basis of closed-source evidence provided by law enforcement and intelligence agencies. In addition, the following financial sanctions listings of persons with links to the UK took place:
none at the EU; and
one person at the UN.
No designated persons have been delisted in this quarter.
Designations this quarter make a total of 195 separate accounts and approximately £525,000 of suspected terrorist funds frozen in the UK since 2001.
There has been one case of domestic litigation regarding financial sanctions. The recent High Court judgment of 22 September 2006 in the case of M, A and MM v Her Majesty's Treasury (2006) EWCH 2328 (Admin) upheld the Treasury's actions regarding benefits payments to the households of designated individuals. The case was heard by the Court of Appeal on 18 December 2006 and we are awaiting the judgment.
The Treasury keeps domestic asset-freezing cases under review. A number of formal reviews have been initiated in this quarter and the reviews of two cases have been completed. In both cases decisions were taken following the review to maintain the asset freeze.
In accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1452 (2002), the Treasury operates a licensing system whereby designated persons and others are able to apply to make or receive payments under specific and, if necessary, monitored conditions. In this quarter, the following licences were issued:
two listed persons were granted basic expenses licences, one of which was for benefits payments;
there were no extraordinary expenses licences granted; and
11 listed persons were granted legal expenses licences.
In addition, the household of one listed person was granted a benefits licence in accordance with the policy that I set out in my Statement of 3 July 2006 to Parliament.
1 The detail, which can be provided to the House on a quarterly basis, is subject to the need to avoid the identification, directly or indirectly, of personal or operationally sensitive information.