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Terrorism: Finance

Volume 716: debated on Wednesday 27 January 2010


My honourable friend, the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury (Sarah McCarthy-Fry), has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Supreme Court has today delivered its judgment in the case of HM Treasury v Ahmed and Others. The case concerns the UK’s implementation of United Nations obligations to freeze the assets of terrorists and those associated with Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

UNSCR 1267 (1999) established a UN asset freezing regime against Osama bin Laden and persons associated with Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. UNSCR 1373 (2001), adopted shortly after 9/11, requires states to take a range of measures to deal with terrorism, including freezing the assets of those involved in terrorism.

The UK has implemented these obligations through Orders in Council made under Section 1 of the United Nations Act 1946. Section 1 of the UN Act authorises the Government to make an Order in Council to give effect to any decision of the UN Security Council where such provision appears to be “necessary or expedient for enabling those measures to be effectively applied”.

The Supreme Court has decided that the Terrorism (United Nations Measures) Order 2006 and the Al-Qaeda and Taliban (United Nations Measures) Order 2006 are beyond the scope of the power provided by Section 1 of the UN Act 1946 and it has quashed both Orders. The court will consider tomorrow whether to stay the judgment for a period.

The Government made the Orders in Council in good faith based on their belief that Section 1 of the United Nations Act was an appropriate legal vehicle and that it provided the most effective and timely way of implementing UN terrorist asset freezing obligations.

The Government are committed to maintaining an effective, proportionate and fair terrorist asset freezing regime that meets our United Nations obligations, protects national security by disrupting flows of terrorist finance, and safeguards human rights.

In light of the court’s decision and the ongoing significant threat from international terrorism, the Government intend to bring forward fast-track primary legislation to restore the UK’s terrorist asset freezing regime. The Government also intend to bring forward affirmative procedure regulations under Section 2(2) of the European Communities Act 1972 to ensure that enforcement provisions are in place to implement fully EC Regulation 881/2002 in respect of measures against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.