Committee (4th Day)
Relevant documents: 7th Report from the Delegated Powers Committee, 8th Report from the Constitution Committee
Clause 45: Parliamentary procedure for regulations
73: Clause 45, page 30, line 21, leave out paragraph (a)
My Lords, I will wait a moment while the Minister gets into his listening mode. This amendment picks up points which have already been addressed in Committee relating to the principles of parliamentary scrutiny. Your Lordships’ Constitution Committee said that,
“given that the purpose of the Bill is to address the need for domestic powers to impose, amend and revoke sanctions after Brexit, it is important to ensure that there are sufficient safeguards and there is adequate parliamentary scrutiny to make the delegated powers constitutionally acceptable”.
I know that the Minister will say: “We are doing precisely that. We are using the affirmative procedures”. This probing amendment seeks to increase the level of parliamentary scrutiny so that powers cannot be used until there is a positive vote by Parliament. It is important that we do not walk blindly into a situation whereby we give the Executive powers that cannot be amended, considered or changed. The Minister may say that the necessary scrutiny powers will be used and that they are in the Bill, but why does he not accept that we need the highest possible level of scrutiny? Therefore, I seek from him an assurance that these new powers will not be used and that draft orders will not come into force until there is a vote of Parliament at the highest level.
I certainly accept that there is a need for speed and for delegated powers, but I hope that the Minister will tell us the specific circumstances in which the existing arrangements are not sufficient, and why there needs to be a speeded-up process that does not rely on primary legislation. We have tabled other amendments that we shall discuss later in Committee but I hope that the Minister will explain exactly why he thinks these new powers are necessary without these improved levels of scrutiny. I beg to move.
My Lords, I support the noble Lord, Lord Collins. I wish to speak also to Amendment 75A, which stands in my name and that of my noble friend Lady Sheehan.
We clearly have an international obligation to agree UN sanctions, which, of course, we play a part in agreeing at the UN. It is when we come to sanctions that do not fall under that heading that we must be especially careful about what we leave simply in the hands of Ministers to decide. The noble Lord, Lord Collins, has made that case. Our Amendment 75A would add Clause 16 to those which must be covered by the affirmative procedure. That surely should be the least that should happen. The noble Lord will have heard the debate on Clause 16. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, described this clause as “lamentable”. It gives the power to a single Minister, by regulation, to create criminal offences for conduct that contravenes laws made by secondary legislation. I am sure that we will come back to this on Report. Our Amendment 75A would place a small check on this power, and I therefore commend it to the Minister.
My Lords, I wish to speak to Amendment 75A, which is also in my name. I agree with all that the noble Lord, Lord Collins, said. The Bill allows such sweeping powers to future Ministers that we on this side of the House seek to put in place safeguards which will enable Parliament greater scrutiny over the regulations made under Clause 16—namely, that they are made by the affirmative procedure.
Clause 16 is the enforcement clause which includes not only the creation of criminal offences punishable by up to 10 years in prison but makes provision for matters in relation to those offences, including defences and evidentiary matters. The Constitution Select Committee has recommended that Clause 16 should not remain part of the Bill, stating its opinion that such regulation-making powers are constitutionally unacceptable. Indeed, we heard arguments to that effect from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, and my noble friend Lady Bowles on the first day of Committee. I agree with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, that this clause should not disfigure our statute book, as he said. Therefore, this amendment is purely an attempt to create a safety net should Clause 16 remain part of the Bill.
My Lords, I added my name to this group of amendments and I support my noble friend Lord Collins in pressing for greater safeguards and extra parliamentary scrutiny, not least because, as I detailed last week in Committee, the banks and London have an appalling record on money laundering—it gives me no great pleasure to say that. We pride ourselves on having one of the best centres of finance in the world, and it is a tremendous source of employment, which is important. However, there is a record of money laundering that simply requires extra parliamentary scrutiny, which is why this group of amendments is so important. That gives me the opportunity briefly, as noble Lords will be relieved to know, to comment on today’s news that HSBC has been relinquished of the penalties that could have applied in the United States of America for similar allegations. That is good news for a British bank that has a global footprint, and for its many employees here in Britain.
I will make two points on this. I caution all our banks which face allegations of money laundering—the Minister may care to comment on this point. Usually, their initial response is to deny it. Then, for example, HSBC, discovered several accounts held by the Gupta brothers, who are South African associates of President Zuma’s family, and it has closed them down, which is welcome. However, we have had a steady stream of allegations against mainly British companies: Bell Pottinger and KPMG, and then McKinsey, which is an American-based company with a presence here. Their initial stance is to deny, then admit, and then apologise. I caution them that with this disease of money laundering it is better not to deny in the first instance.
My second point is to thank the Financial Conduct Authority for the way it has engaged on this issue. I can report to the House that at least one whistleblower who has been supplying me with information from South Africa has engaged directly with the FCA—it has been a positive experience. I say to the financial institutions involved that I named in your Lordships’ House, including HSBC, Standard Chartered and the Bank of Baroda, that if I find that there is any witch-hunting of those responsible, or of the brave, courageous people in the South African governmental system who have also been supplying me with information, I will name the institutions involved and identify the individuals as having suffered that persecution. I say this before your Lordships because it is important that as we take the Bill through we arm it with the instruments necessary to stop this kind of practice.
My Lords, I will not say anything that would diminish what we just heard from the noble Lord, Lord Hain, and I do not believe in repetition. However, if I have to repeat it at the next stage of this process, I shall be as vehement as I was before. I support this amendment.
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Collins, and other noble Lords who spoke in this brief debate. In addition—to depart from my notes—for the first time I welcome the new Deputy Chairman of Committees to his position. It is certainly the first time for me stand at the Dispatch Box with him in his place.
From the outset I agree—I made this point clear in various debates at both Second Reading and in Committee—on the need for proper parliamentary oversight of sanctions regimes and I recognise the importance that noble Lords attach to this. That has been made very clear to me during Committee. Amendments 73 and 74 would require the draft affirmative procedure to be used for any non-UN sanctions regimes. As noble Lords know, the UK, through the European Union, imposes a number of sanctions regimes and measures that do not derive from the United Nations. These include, for example, sanctions against Russia over its illegal annexation of Crimea, and sanctions against the Assad regime in Syria.
In the future, it is likely—indeed, highly probable—that the UK would want to join its allies in imposing sanctions in circumstances where UN agreement is not possible. The noble Baroness, Lady Northover, talked about Ministers deciding. No, it would be Parliament deciding, requiring that these sanctions regimes come into effect only after the approval of both Houses of Parliament. In that way it would significantly undermine their effectiveness and make it harder for the UK to impose sanctions at the same time as international partners. Future targets of sanctions would be given forewarning of their designation, which would enable them to move their assets out of the UK and take other steps to nullify the effect of sanctions. This would undermine the credibility of sanctions as a foreign policy tool.
The Bill provides instead that the made-affirmative procedure, as the noble Lord, Lord Collins, acknowledged, should be used for non-UN sanctions to ensure that measures have immediate effect, while still requiring the approval of both Houses within 28 days. This strikes the right balance between enabling the Government to act decisively and ensuring accountability to Parliament.
Amendment 75 would require the draft affirmative procedure for any regulations that suspend, revoke or amend existing sanctions. As the Bill stands, regulations that suspend sanctions are subject to the negative procedure. This is to ensure that they can be used flexibly to recognise an improvement in behaviour while maintaining a credible threat that sanctions would immediately be re-imposed in the event of backsliding. This approach has been used to good effect as part of international diplomacy—for example, in the context of the Iran nuclear deal. If the Government were unable to suspend sanctions without waiting for the express approval of Parliament, it would reduce our ability to swiftly deploy these options in support of foreign policy goals.
In addition, as suspension of sanctions has the effect of reducing restrictions on individuals, we do not consider that it requires the higher level of scrutiny required to introduce such restrictions by imposing non-UN sanctions.
As regards regulations to revoke or amend sanctions, the Bill provides that this may be done using the same procedure as was used to create the regulations in the first place. Regimes containing UN-mandated sanctions would be revoked or amended by the negative procedure, and UK-autonomous sanctions by the made-affirmative procedure. I do not see a reason why the revocation or amendment of sanctions regimes should require greater scrutiny than their creation.
Amendment 75A intends to require the draft affirmative procedure for all sanctions regulations that contain enforcement provisions as set out in Clause 16. I acknowledge that we debated Clause 16 on the first day in Committee. I listened carefully to the concerns expressed about the creation of criminal offences through secondary legislation. We are looking at and reflecting on these concerns.
Let me may say a word or two about the process we currently follow as an EU member state and what we envisage following the enactment of the Bill. For each of the current UN and EU sanctions regimes we currently implement through EU law, the UK has created the relevant criminal penalties through statutory instruments made under the negative procedure. Similarly, we expect that all the sanctions regulations created under this Bill will include enforcement provisions of some kind. We envisage one regulation for each country, setting out the purpose of the sanctions, the specific measures being imposed, and the corresponding prohibitions and offences.
This approach allows a degree of nuance when determining penalties. For example, a breach of sanctions that results in nuclear material being made available to North Korea is obviously very serious, whereas failing to supply information to the relevant authority might attract a less severe penalty. Each regime is different, meaning different offences and penalties might be appropriate. This principle was accepted by the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee.
Given that all sanctions regulations will include enforcement provisions, this amendment would require the use of the draft affirmative procedure in all cases, both UN and non-UN. For the reasons I have set out, we believe the correct approach is negative procedures for regulations containing UN sanctions and made-affirmative for UK-autonomous sanctions.
The use of the draft affirmative procedure for UN sanctions regulations would mean that we would routinely breach our obligation to implement the relevant asset freezes “without delay”. Noble Lords may be aware that Part 8 of the Policing and Crime Act 2017—approved by this House—contains specific powers designed to bridge the sometimes lengthy gap between the adoption of measures by the UN Security Council and the entry into force of the corresponding EU legal Acts. The amendment would undo our recent efforts to accelerate our domestic implementation of UN sanctions. Given my explanation to the Committee, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Collins, is minded to withdraw his amendment.
I thank the Minister for his response. The words of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, come to mind: he said that we are not simply bringing EU law into domestic law and preserving it, but extending it—a lot. That is the key issue of concern to noble Lords in this House. I hear what the Minister is saying but we will keep coming back to this issue in other groupings. On Report, we will certainly make the voices of all noble Lords heard on this subject. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 73 withdrawn.
Amendments 74 to 75A not moved.
75B: Clause 45, page 30, line 41, leave out paragraph (d)
My Lords, we may get the same response from the Minister to this amendment, but Clause 41 deals with more than simply bringing EU law into domestic law. We have a clause on anti-money laundering that basically says that we already have primary legislation, so we have no need for more and will deal with all this through regulation. I want to hear clearly from the Minister why that is the case. These probing amendments are about the Minister having to make the case. What is deficient in our existing legislative framework? Why is it not sufficient to deal with the problems that have already been identified or may be around the corner? It is up to the Minister to say why existing primary legislation is not sufficient.
If it is not sufficient, why are the Government not bringing forward primary legislation to deal with it, or making the case for primary legislation? I am tempted to use the terms “known unknowns” and “unknown unknowns”. What are we leading ourselves into? We have tabled this amendment to ask, if the Government have the powers of the super-affirmative procedure, what is the bare minimum? If we will not have scrutiny through primary legislation, let us ensure that on this clause the Government have to say what they intend to do, are required to consult on it and are required to respond to that consultation before any regulations are brought into force. That is the bare minimum.
So far, in all the Committee days, I have not heard that there is a case to be made on this anti-money laundering. By the way, I think it was on the last Committee day that I raised the question of the anti-corruption strategy. I am really pleased that that was published yesterday; I brought it with me and I hope, if we go on for long enough this afternoon, that I will have the opportunity to read it. One of the things about the strategy that concerns me is: who is leading on it? I understand that John Penrose has been given the responsibility, but when the then Prime Minister David Cameron talked about that need at the anti-corruption strategy summit, we were talking about a Cabinet Minister having responsibility. We were talking about the Government taking these issues seriously. We know that money laundering is the key element in most corruption in the world, where people secretly get money out, get it all cleaned up and buy property et cetera.
I hope the Minister will explain why we seem to have had a downgrade on corruption—and not only that. If it is a priority, why are we not getting primary legislation to address these issues? Why are we seeing this being done, in effect, through the back door? I strongly believe that if the clause remains as it is we must have the super-affirmative procedure to ensure not only that we have only proper parliamentary scrutiny but that the people who put the House of Commons there can see and comment on what is being proposed so that there is proper accountability. I beg to move.
My Lords, I welcome the comments that have just been made on this group of amendments on the super-affirmative procedure. When I went to bed last night I was thinking of commenting only that this enhanced procedure was interesting and worth exploring further, particularly to see whether it goes far enough. We are entering new territory. If a procedure such as this gives sufficient consultative and amendment power to Parliament, it might work—but it is still, as has been emphasised, a big downgrade from participating in an Act of Parliament and therefore should not in any way be a “new normal” to replace what could, or should, be done more fully. Having said that, coupled with the sunset clause that noble Lords have proposed in the last group this evening, it is perhaps even more interesting as a backstop and a temporary measure.
However, this morning—I did not have an inspirational dream and I do not want to retract anything that I have just said—I replied to an email from a lobbyist seeking amendments to the withdrawal Bill to change some things in EU financial services legislation while it is being transposed. As part of my reply I explained that the issue concentrating my mind was far more the division of power between government and Parliament—how changes such as the one they sought to address by lobbying me might be addressed in future—and that there would be legislation following on from the withdrawal Bill. We could say that the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill is an advance guard of that follow-on legislation. I ended up by saying that if the Government got their way on the division of power then the lobbyist need never lobby Parliament again. What a statement that is about lack of power and the place of Parliament, yet that is what the Government seek to do to what we proudly call the mother of Parliaments.
Now, “need never lobby Parliament again” is not entirely true. Lobbying would become concentrated solely on getting regulations voted down—in full. I wonder whether the Government have thought through how that would play out. For example, divide and rule—a tactic well used when lobbying and suggestions are varied—would no longer apply. Everyone would be as one, even if for different reasons. I have seen concerted naysaying on issues in the European Parliament—and it is both powerful and very unpleasant.
It is important that Parliament has not just negative but positive power to seek amendments, including to make additions that are significant, not just tweaks. That is what I am looking to preserve, even for any interim measure.
My Lords, perhaps I may just add a word on this occasion. I welcome the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Collins, and the speech of my noble friend Lady Bowles, but I would be far less concerned about trying to change the regulatory procedures we are considering today if we had in Clause 41 an appropriate policy framework under which regulations were to be placed—that is, the safeguards, the range of powers and the proper kind of scope that I think every noble Lord has considered normal in primary legislation. That layer is completely missing. The whole range of safeguards, including policy safeguards, rests with the Executive, while Parliament will have an opportunity to express itself only through its response to statutory instruments. If that were the end state at which we arrived then I think that anything other than provision for the super-affirmative procedure would be so undemocratic as to be offensive to this House.
I still think that the better solution is for the Government to accept that this is an area of genuine policy which requires genuine safeguards and genuine scope, and they should take on the responsibility of putting those safeguards in primary legislation. I do not understand why they have chosen not to do so. The reasons they have given are, first, that some things need to be done fast, though I think we have agreed across the House that it could be done through a carve-out; and, secondly, that there will need to be a transposition from EU law, although that too can be handled on a mere technical basis.
The issue is the absence of primary legislation as the framework for this process. There is no sunset clause on this provision; that is almost a side issue. The fact that the Government are seeking to manage this entire process without bringing crucial issues back to be dealt with by Parliament, in the proper and democratic way, troubles me hugely. I do not think we have heard any explanation from the Government as to why it is crucial to change the balance of power between Parliament and the Executive or why they are using this Bill as an instrument to do so.
My Lords, there is always a temptation in these processes, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, said, to make the same speech over and over again, but perhaps this speech will suffice for the other issues we will cover today and in the course of this Bill and other Bills.
Of course one of the big worries about the process on which the Government are embarked is—as has been said before, and has just been remarked on—this movement of sovereignty from Parliament to the Executive. I think that this House is doing its job by being very aware of that, but there is another issue in the background to this. I welcome the publication of the anti-corruption strategy. It is keeping faith with a process that has gone on over the past number of years, with all three parties that have been in government, to try to get our house in order regarding our reputation in dealing with corruption, money laundering and associated crimes.
The truth is that we must not be complacent about this. The noble Lord, Lord Hain, was quite right: there is a taint about the behaviour of some in the City. There is a taint about some of the operations of overseas territories, which we will be looking at later. When I was the Minister responsible for the Crown dependencies, my one piece of advice to them was to make sure that they were as transparent as possible in meeting the highest national and international standards. One of the things that the Government and both Houses have to think about as we go through this process that the Government are embarked on is that there are still those who see our future as the buccaneers of world trade, and believe that London and the UK will become a haven for practices that we do not approve of.
That is why it is important that what we put in place during this period will be the base and foundation of our reputation. Those of us who want to see that reputation based on upholding the highest standards—and I fully accept that the Minister shares this—have to understand that each piece of legislation we put forward will be tested against the questions: what do they mean by this, are they going to slip from previous commitments, and are they going to be as tough as they were? Those are the tests that are going to be put to us. Both Houses, and this House in particular, will have to be on their guard to make sure that those highest standards are maintained.
My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Collins, for again raising the issue of parliamentary oversight, and to all noble Lords who have spoken in this debate. I start with a confession: unlike the noble Baroness, Lady Bowles, I did not go to bed last night thinking about the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill. I had a three year-old to contend with at that time, so I did not share that experience, nor did I dream about the Bill. Nevertheless, let me say at the outset that I accept the importance of scrutiny, as I have said, and before I come to the amendments in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Collins, I shall address the point just made by the noble Lord, Lord McNally, who spoke about his ministerial responsibilities when he was Minister for the Crown dependencies. His advice is something that I have continued to say to our overseas territories. I was his Whip at that time and I recall those conversations well. Equally, although the noble Lord, Lord Hain, is not in his place, in addressing these amendments I totally acknowledge the important points made in Committee about anti-money laundering and raised again in relation to the previous groups.
I shall address Amendments 75B, 76A and 76B together, as they have a single effect of changing the procedure for regulations made under Clause 41 of the Bill, which concerns anti-money laundering, to the so-called super-affirmative procedure. As we have discussed previously, the Government are committed to ensuring robust scrutiny of regulations made under the Bill. Any regulations made under this clause already have to be made under the draft affirmative procedure and require Parliament’s consent before they take effect. The sole exception to this is when regulations are made to add or remove countries from a list of high-risk jurisdictions in connection to which enhanced due diligence measures must be undertaken. Both the Financial Action Task Force and the European Union currently publish such lists. After the United Kingdom ceases to be a member of the EU, we will seek to align our list of high-risk jurisdictions with that published by the FATF. Part 3 of the Bill provides that regulations updating this list will be made through the made affirmative procedure. This will ensure effective parliamentary scrutiny of such changes, while ensuring that we can align promptly with international standards around which jurisdictions present high risks of money laundering or terrorist financing.
However, this amendment would go further. It seeks to impose the so-called super-affirmative procedure. This would require the Government to publish a draft statutory instrument, with a detailed explanation of its contents, and have due regard to any representations made within a 40-day or 60-day period, including any resolutions of Parliament, before seeking the consent of Parliament to the original or an amended version. I totally appreciate the need for parliamentary oversight, but I believe that this amendment is unnecessary. I assure noble Lords that the Government take parliamentary scrutiny seriously, reflected in the fact that regulations under this clause are already under the draft affirmative procedure.
The Bill will already increase levels of parliamentary scrutiny above and beyond the status quo. We—and other Governments, regardless of party—typically make anti-money laundering regulations through the negative procedure. The Labour Government did this when transposing the third EU money laundering directive through the Money Laundering Regulations 2007. A similar approach was taken earlier this year when we transposed the fourth EU money laundering directive through the money laundering regulations 2017. As noble Lords will be aware, the implementation of the 2017 regulations followed a 12-week policy consultation, followed by a four-week consultation on the draft regulations. Consultations of this type are usual practice for significant changes to regulatory regimes, such as those relating to anti-money laundering.
The Government always pay close attention to the views of parliamentarians, and of noble Lords in particular, on anti-money laundering. In last week’s debate on the Bill we talked about the anti-corruption strategy, which, as the noble Lord, Lord Collins, acknowledged, we published yesterday. In it we reaffirmed our commitment to establishing a public register of the beneficial ownership of overseas companies which own UK property. The Government will publish a draft Bill to this effect in this parliamentary Session, allowing an opportunity for pre-legislative scrutiny. The noble Lord, Lord Collins, asked about the strategy. I assure him that the Home Secretary, as a senior member of the Cabinet, will personally chair a new economic crime strategic board to drive forward action in this regard.
When changing the UK’s anti-money laundering framework after leaving the EU, the laying of regulations through the draft affirmative procedure will allow Parliament and the relevant committees sufficient time to look at the draft before it is debated or comes into effect. I also remind noble Lords that the regulations will be subject to an affirmative resolution in both Houses before they come into force. These measures, along with changes to the Government’s processes for bringing forward secondary legislation, will go further to address the issues that the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, raised earlier this year in relation to the process by which the money laundering regulations 2017 were brought into force.
On the point of broader consultation, I reassure noble Lords that the Government regularly speak to interested stakeholders when considering changes to policy or process. I am confident that this will remain the standard practice in matters of this kind, where the Government are dependent on banks, businesses and other stakeholders to ensure effective compliance. With that explanation, I hope the noble Lord is minded to withdraw his amendment.
My Lords, I thank the Minister for his comments, but I think all noble Lords will be concerned. We are moving from one type of regime to another. The fact of the matter is that, as the noble Baroness, Lady Bowles, has said on numerous occasions, EU directives go through a very detailed process of democratic scrutiny—at European level and, of course, at domestic level. We know in advance what those directives contain and we debate them fully, and we have the opportunity, through our representation in Europe, to challenge elements of them. All that is going to disappear when we leave the EU. We want to know that we are not giving up that democratic accountability to simply place everything in the hands of the Executive. I am rather disappointed, to put it mildly, with the Minister’s response. I assure him that we will be tabling amendments on Report, particularly with regard to Clause 41, which will ensure that there is proper accountability and scrutiny.
I assure the noble Lord that I am listening very carefully. I did the noble Baroness, Lady Kramer, an injustice when flicking through my notes. As noble Lords can probably hear, my voice is deeper. That is the result of telling your children to wrap up warmly on Wimbledon Common but not following that advice yourself. Nevertheless, I listened to the points made by the noble Lord and the noble Baroness, Lady Kramer, very carefully. I will consider carefully the points the noble Baroness has raised in Committee, particularly on having a framework, and I recognise the importance of the points raised by the noble Lord—I hear his strength of feeling. I will respond to these issues, as I have said. Some of these concerns have been raised in the Delegated Powers Committee’s report, which we will respond to shortly as well.
I thank the Minister for those additional comments but they still do not change my concerns. I would welcome whatever further consideration he gives them and ask that we have what he has to say in plenty of time before Report. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 75B withdrawn.
76: Clause 45, page 30, line 45, at end insert—
“( ) A statutory instrument containing regulations under section 1 that repeals, revokes or amends—(a) an Act of the Scottish Parliament,(b) a Measure or Act of the National Assembly for Wales, or(c) Northern Ireland legislation,must receive the consent of the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales and the Northern Ireland Assembly, respectively.”
My Lords, Amendment 76 is in my name and that of my noble friend Lady Sheehan. It states that where a statutory instrument that contains regulations under Section 1 repeals, revokes or amends an Act of the Scottish Parliament, a Measure or Act of the National Assembly for Wales, or Northern Ireland legislation, that instrument must have received the consent of the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales or the Northern Irish Assembly. I am sure that the Minister will argue that the Sewel convention provides that the Parliament of the United Kingdom,
“would not normally legislate with regard to devolved matters without the consent of the Scottish Parliament”,—[Official Report, 21/7/1998; col. 791.]
but that it does not apply to UK subordinate legislation.
Nevertheless, the new regulation-making powers in the Bill are, as we have heard throughout the Committee stage, very significant. The regulations detailed in Clause 45(5) will enable the Government to amend any Act of the Scottish Parliament and any legislation passed by the Assemblies in Wales and Northern Ireland. I am grateful to the Law Society of Scotland for flagging this up. Once again, this is a wide-ranging power that requires further justification and checks, which is why we have put this amendment forward. When the Minister replies, it would be helpful if he indicated which devolved legislation the Government would envisage amending under regulations made under Clause 1 and, for that matter and perhaps more importantly, which they would not. I beg to move.
My Lords, I support Amendment 76, to which my name is attached. It would amend Clause 45, which lays out the “Parliamentary procedure for regulations”. The amendment gives substance to the recommendation in the eighth report of the Constitution Select Committee which, at the end of paragraph 6, said:
“If it is the Government’s intention that it would, in practice, liaise with the devolved administrations prior to the exercise of this power, such a requirement could be written into the Bill”.
The Government have argued that this power reflects a reciprocity with that which enables Welsh or Scottish Ministers to amend Acts of Parliament. However, reciprocity can be said to operate only where one is comparing similar powers; this is not the case here. Welsh and Scottish legislation can authorise devolved Ministers to amend UK legislation only within devolved competence, whereas UK legislation can authorise UK Ministers to amend enactments of the devolved legislatures irrespective of devolved competence.
I believe this to be a common-sense amendment, one that seeks the consent of the devolved nations before amending any Act passed by the Scottish Parliament and any legislation passed by the Assemblies of Wales and Northern Ireland. Dare I say it, consultation with the devolved nations may save the Government from further embarrassments such as the fiasco with the DUP that we witnessed, open-mouthed, just last week.
My Lords, I add to my noble friend’s wise reference to the Constitution Committee the fact that the committee also pointed out that there is ample precedent for the sort of amendment that is being discussed here. For example, certain statutory instruments made under the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006 and the Public Bodies Act 2011 have comparable provisions, and there seems no reason why the committee’s advice should not be taken in this case.
My Lords, this amendment is a useful reminder that the Brexit process needs to reflect the devolved nature of the United Kingdom. I take this opportunity of looking at this amendment to make certain observations more broadly and, indeed, to go back to the previous group where the Minister referred to a UK property register. He will be aware—and if he is not aware, he will no doubt be told by those sitting beside him—that the United Kingdom property register covers the whole United Kingdom via three separate registers. Indeed, two of those registers come from jurisdictions which voted by a majority to remain in the EU. Plainly the Minister does not intend to give ammunition to those who wish to withdraw from the UK. This Bill, and this part, are aimed at enabling withdrawal from the EU. That is one objective. There is a body of people who will find ground for complaint in more or less anything that in some way does not take account of the separate nature of various bits of the United Kingdom. With that small warning, I commend this amendment, and leave it at that.
My Lords, the Bill provides powers to be used in pursuit of the UK’s foreign policy and to ensure our national security. Under the UK’s constitutional settlement, these matters are reserved to Westminster. This Bill is accordingly one that is so reserved.
The amendment would, in effect, give the devolved Administrations the right to veto legislation related to UK foreign and security policy. This is contrary to the devolution settlement between Westminster and the devolved legislatures. Devolved legislatures do not have any right to veto measures where they relate to matters of foreign and security policy, including decisions of the UN Security Council. Any such amendments can arise only as the consequence of the sanctions themselves. Their primary purposes will always be a reserved matter.
I reassure noble Lords that during the preparation of the Bill the devolved Administrations were fully consulted on this point and they have not disagreed with our assessment that the Bill is reserved. The amendment would rewrite the devolution settlement, and I am sure that was not the intention behind it.
On the observation and implementation of international obligations within the competence of the devolved Administrations, while they have the power to legislate to implement measures required as a result of international obligations entered into by the UK, that does not provide them with any right to veto UK measures for the purposes of foreign and security policy, including measures negotiated and agreed by the UK in the UN. As I have already said, we have consulted extensively with the devolved Administrations on this very point and they have not disagreed with the Government’s assessment.
My Lords, I thank the Minister for that response which was along the lines that I anticipated. Yet again, it is an argument for generally limiting the powers in the Bill so that the concerns that I have expressed would be lessened. I thank noble Lords for their support. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 76 withdrawn.
Amendment 76A not moved.
Clause 45 agreed.
Amendment 76B not moved.
Clause 46 agreed.
Clause 47: Consequential amendments and repeals
77: Clause 47, page 32, line 13, leave out subsections (1) to (3)
My Lords, Amendment 77, which is in my name and that of my noble friend Lady Kramer, takes your Lordships again to the issues of the Ahmed case. The amendment would delete the first three subsections of Clause 47, which repeal the Terrorist Asset-Freezing etc Act 2010, so would stop that Act being revoked. We do not agree with the repeal of that Act and its replacement by a general power to do anything, which is what the Bill does.
There have already been significant contributions from noble Lords, and especially noble and learned Lords, in respect of powers in Clauses 10, 11, 16 and 32 which reach into the same issues. If anything, the amendments proposed already have not gone far enough. The rights of appeal as well as review that are contained in the Terrorist Asset-Freezing etc Act 2010 should not be dispensed with.
The Supreme Court struck down the Treasury’s previous regime as an oppressive one that had devastating effects on families, which led to the 2010 Act. It looks like the Government are giving themselves power to do that again. We come back to worthy intentions, but the safeguards must be there. Under the current law, the court hears appeals against designation decisions, not just reviews. That should be maintained.
This amendment revisits issues debated at the time of the 2010 Act, such as who decides questions of fact and the scope of error allowed to the administrative decision-maker. There will be noble and learned Lords who have a better grasp of the issues than me, and as I mentioned, we have already been around that loop in previous debates on other clauses. However, to me, it is a question of principle: to seek to increase power and simultaneously reduce defences is not acceptable, all the more so when there is no relevant change in circumstances or threats brought about by Brexit. It is no excuse to ravage what have previously been just defences. I beg to move.
My Lords, I will speak briefly. I am no expert on the relevant legislation that is being repealed under this clause, but I have spoken to those who are, and the response I have had is one of shock. Legislation that went through both Houses of Parliament, with great care, debate, consideration and amendment, is now being swept away, to be replaced by a regulatory power, which, again, is not bounded in any way. It could be identical or it could be completely different, but it is not discussed or laid out anywhere in this legislation.
In the past we have talked primarily of powers that have come through a democratic process in Brussels: through the European Parliament’s scrutiny, consultation and voting processes, and through votes of the Council. In this case, we are talking about sweeping away, to be replaced by regulation, significant legislation that came through this Parliament in a democratic process. I do not understand, nor have I heard any explanation, why the Government are choosing to take this route.
My Lords, I draw noble Lords’ attention to the White Paper that preceded the Bill, in which we noted that the terrorist threat has evolved since the enactment in 2010 of the Terrorist Asset-Freezing etc Act—TAFA—which the noble Baroness, Lady Kramer, just referred to. We need to ensure that UK counterterrorist sanctions powers remain a useful tool for law enforcement and intelligence agencies. We therefore propose to use the Bill to establish a common approach to designations under counter- terrorism and country sanctions regimes, including the asset-freezing powers set out in Clause 2.
The threshold for designations under TAFA is high and the powers have not been used since February 2015. Under the Bill, a designation could be made where there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the person or group is or has been involved in a defined terrorist activity and that designation is appropriate. As I have previously argued from the Dispatch Box, this is totally line with our current approach under UN and EU sanctions and would be balanced by procedural protections such as the ability of designated persons to challenge the Government in court.
The Bill would enable us to make counterterrorism sanctions regulations and designations such that the powers in TAFA would no longer be required. All the current TAFA designations would then be reassessed under the criteria set by the Bill. If the criteria were met, we would revoke the TAFA designations and create new designations under the Bill. If we are unable to repeal TAFA through the Bill, we will not only be maintaining redundant legislation but risking creating legal confusion by having two very similar pieces of legislation on the statute books.
Furthermore, maintaining TAFA could expose the Government to legal challenge, as designated persons would have grounds to question why they were not instead listed under the Bill, and vice versa. That could mean using taxpayers’ money to deal with legal challenges against the Government that were a result of our failure to repeal redundant legislation.
I draw noble Lords’ attention to paragraph 1.8 of David Anderson’s recent report on the Manchester and London attacks, which noted that,
“the modus operandi (MO) of terrorist attacks has diversified and simplified over the years, as Daesh has”,
inspired rather than directed,
“acts of terrorism in the west. The attacks under review were typical in style for their time and place … Unlike the large, directed Islamist plots characteristic of the last decade, all four attacks were committed”,
as noble Lords will recall,
“by lone actors or small groups, with little evidence of detailed planning or precise targeting”.
In summary, we believe this clause is necessary for the effective operation of the Bill. I therefore ask the noble Baroness to withdraw her amendment.
I thank the Minister for his response. I am sure he appreciates that this is, if I may use the words of the noble Lord, Lord Collins, a backstop amendment. The point is that satisfaction has to be achieved somewhere in the Bill in respect of the clauses I named, particularly Clauses 10, 11, 16 and 32, and so far we do not appear to have that. This is of a package with that. Something has to be done, so while for the moment I am prepared to withdraw the amendment, I expect this whole issue to be revisited with considerable force on Report. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 77 withdrawn.
Clause 47 agreed.
Schedule 3: Consequential amendments
Amendment 78 not moved.
Schedule 3 agreed.
Clauses 48 and 49 agreed.
Clause 50: Interpretation
Amendments 79 to 81 not moved.
Clause 50 agreed.
Clause 51: Extent
82: Clause 51, page 35, line 24, at end insert “, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and the British overseas territories”
My Lords, in this group of amendments we are trying to address an issue that we have discussed before but in a way that improves not only accountability but responsibility. Amendment 84 states that the Secretary of State must lay a report before Parliament on the adequacy of the implementation and enforcement of current legislation on sanctions, money laundering and terrorist financing in the Crown dependencies and overseas territories. It requires also that the Secretary of State must consult on whether any further legislative changes or enforcement powers are needed in connection with these territories. Amendments 82 and 83 are also probing, designed purely to raise a debate on the adequacy of the implementation and enforcement of current legislation on sanctions, money laundering and terrorist financing in the overseas territories, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.
The Minister has, on previous occasions in Committee, stated that the overseas territories are separate jurisdictions with their own democratically elected Governments. They are not represented in this Parliament and so it has been only in exceptional circumstances that we have legislated for the OTs without their consent. These amendments are of course not about imposing legislation. They are about questioning whether we are meeting our responsibilities and whether we are satisfied with our collective responsibility. The one area in which the overseas territories do comply is foreign policy, and in particular UN sanctions. They do not have a choice about that; they have to meet the obligations that the United Kingdom does.
I want to focus on collective responsibility. I promised the Minister that while I was sitting here I would try to start reading the anti-corruption strategy, and it is worth reading some of it out. Tackling corruption is in the United Kingdom’s national interest. It helps to keep us safe from threats to our safety and security from organised crime, terrorism and illegal migration, and from insiders who exploit their position to access assets for malign purposes. It is our global reputation and global responsibilities that are at stake. These amendments seek to ask whether we are taking those responsibilities seriously in respect of the overseas territories, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.
These are not domestic issues. They are not about local finance arrangements. I did say previously in Committee that if the financial services are to thrive, they need to have public confidence. That is what has been stated and why we want to take the lead globally. We know that our reputation as an international financial centre is dependent on people having confidence in it. That responsibility is particularly important in relation to anti-money laundering and the threat from international terrorism. If illegal activities take place in respect of one form of activity, you can bet your bottom dollar that they will be taking place in respect of other activities. That is the real threat that we face.
These amendments are a reasonable request in terms of the overseas territories. They are not necessarily abrogating the other demands that we have been making but seek to ensure that in our global responsibility in the fight against international crime, we have taken all the necessary measures to ensure that we can defend not only our security but that of the overseas territories. I beg to move.
My Lords, Amendments 82 and 83 ensure that the Act extends to the overseas territories and Crown dependencies, as we have heard, and that regulations in the Bill may be extended to those areas. Amendment 84 makes it clear that the provisions relate not only to sanctions but to money laundering. We had an extensive discussion about this in the previous sitting. These amendments would certainly move us forward, but my question to the noble Lord, Lord Collins, is this: is this strong enough when he states that he seeks to ensure that, “applicable legal frameworks” are,
“sufficiently robust to achieve the objectives of the relevant legislation across the United Kingdom, the Crown Dependencies and the British overseas territories”?
It strikes me that we are not yet in a position where the Crown dependencies and the British Overseas Territories are in the same place as the UK.
The noble Baroness, Lady Stern, and others made a strong case in our previous sitting that it is time to move the matter forward and align the Crown dependencies and British Overseas Territories with the stronger position that we have in recent years secured in the UK. In new subsections (8)(b) and (8)(c), in Amendment 84, we would wish to see that strengthened. Certainly, it is useful to have a report, but we would wish the provisions here to be stronger on the anti-money laundering front. That said, this is clearly an improvement on the current Bill, which is permissive in regard to these areas rather than stating the changes we wish to see.
I just want to reassure the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, that simply tabling these amendments does not diminish our support for other necessary changes, particularly in relation to the overseas territories. We want the Minister to say why these bare minimums are not necessary. It is about moving the debate forward; it is not back-tracking. As I said in my opening remarks, we are not saying that this is somehow preferable to some of the other amendments we have moved, but it is a way of holding the Minister to account. He has to explain why he thinks the current arrangements are satisfactory, and say why such a report would not be appropriate, so that we can operate a policy in line with the strategy published yesterday.
I thank the noble Lord for that clarification, which is very helpful.
My Lords, I am bound, which will be no surprise to my noble friend or to the Labour Front Bench, to express some reservation about conclusions that might be drawn from this amendment but which were perhaps not intended in the way in which it is framed. In doing so, I am speaking purely about the Crown dependencies and not about the overseas territories. My interest in the Crown dependencies is minor, and recorded in the register, but my real interest is having been involved in the production of reports which helped to set the framework for the relationship between the Crown dependencies and the United Kingdom. My thanks go particularly to my noble friend Lord McNally, when he was the Minister responsible, for implementing those reports.
It is partly a matter of tone and partly a matter of phraseology, but our relationship with the Crown dependencies recognises that these are democratic jurisdictions that are fully open to media scrutiny—not just local media, but national and international media as well. They have both legislative and administrative autonomy to a significant degree. In the case of their legislative autonomy, it is recognised by this Parliament that it is for the authorities in the Crown dependencies to pass their own legislation. However, the process by which they secure Royal Assent for it, involving the Privy Council, is one that gives Ministers a full opportunity to raise any issues they might need to raise that touch on UK Ministers’ responsibility for the international relations of Crown dependencies. That responsibility is exercised by Ministers who will look at legislation in that light.
What we discouraged at the time I was chairman of the Justice Committee is Ministers merely marking the homework of Crown dependencies, and saying, “If we were legislating in this way about dogs, or whatever, we would not phrase the legislation like this”—a wholly time-wasting and pointless exercise. But where a UK responsibility arises, as it does in the case of international treaties, for example, it is entirely appropriate that Ministers seek to ensure that there is proper compliance on the part of dependencies. Of course, the autonomy that dependencies enjoy also applies to the administration and enforcement of law; that administration is something for which they are democratically accountable and is open to any scrutiny and international criticism that media and non-governmental organisations can produce.
I mention those points because a reasonably satisfactory model has developed which works to the satisfaction of both sides, and I would not like that to be thrown out with the bathwater, with such phraseology as demanding to know,
“whether the applicable legal frameworks are sufficiently robust”,
“whether the existing enforcement mechanisms are sufficiently robust”,
or whether the mechanisms that the UK Government use for oversight of the Crown dependencies are adequate. The first two are matters for which the legislatures of the dependencies should be, and are, held to account; the third is one that we have sought to address in recent years, and which we have addressed reasonably successfully. I would be reluctant to see us develop a new and paternalistic model for a relationship that seems in many respects to be working well and which is fully open to all the issues that the media and NGOs have raised about money laundering and transparency—issues on which the dependencies can in some respects demonstrate they are ahead of the United Kingdom itself.
Does the noble Lord not acknowledge that not all overseas territories are compliant in terms of public registers, which this Government have said is a necessary prerequisite, or thing to have, to ensure increased public confidence? Does he not think that that is something we should expect from all our territories?
I am grateful to the noble Lord. At the beginning of my remarks, I said that I was referring specifically to the Crown dependencies and not to the overseas territories, on which a different speech might have to be made. I would also have to say that registers of ownership are only as good as the quality of the information contained in them. The decision of Crown dependencies not to have publicly open registers but to have registers fully open to law enforcement and tax authorities, so long as those registers are of a high quality, is what is most important. It can reasonably be argued—and was argued with a noble Lord with responsibilities in this area during our previous debate—that the registers now in existence in the dependencies are actually better enforced than that of Companies House.
Is the noble Lord aware that, for the first time, the European Union has published a list of those countries that are countries “of note” in respect of money laundering? It is sad to say that, of those, Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man appear, which is a matter of concern.
The noble Lord bears out my point. The process of challenging anything found to be unsatisfactory is one to which the dependencies are open. That may come from European Union sources or non-governmental organisations, but these are open and democratic societies, in which those challenges can be made. The UK Government have responsibilities and have the means of exercising them already at their disposal.
My Lords, these exchanges show some of the dilemma of dealing with this issue. I ask a fairly simple question when I look at these things. Why should a financial services organisation decide to base itself on some microdot in the Caribbean to provide its services? Once you ask that question, you begin to wonder whether it is to avoid the kind of rigour and inspection that they get in more well-established centres. As I said in my earlier intervention, I worked for three years with the Crown dependencies, ably aided by the Minister, in his then capacity as a Whip. I made two points. One, which I mentioned earlier, was my advice to them to make sure they answered the various questions put to them with full candour and transparency. I pay tribute to the Justice Committee under the chairmanship of my noble friend, who put forward a range of suggestions. Another point was that the British Government should get their act in better order. Sometimes, the job was to make sure that, when getting this dealt with, Whitehall departments were sufficiently accessible and aware of the particular status of the Crown dependencies.
During those three years of experience, I was impressed by the qualities of the Civil Service and the representatives of the Crown dependencies in dealing with these issues. That does not take away the fact that they, and we, have to face the fact that, as the noble Lord, Lord Collins, said, it is our reputation that is at stake. I had nothing to do with the overseas territories, but there is a qualitative difference which needs to be looked at between their standards of supervision of financial services and those of the Crown dependencies. I take the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, about the Isle of Man and Jersey. I hope they are both addressing what it is that has landed them on that list. That is something for their processes, because this is damaging to them, although there may be other jurisdictions within the EU which could not bear too close examination.
This is in our national interest. It is not us playing the neo-colonial or trying to order them about. We are defending our national interest when jurisdictions are seen as British Overseas Territories. When I had to learn that very peculiar lesson, the first thing I was told was that we joined them; they did not join us. The difference in constitutional relationship is because they were part of the Duchy of Normandy that conquered us. Nevertheless, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man have to understand that their meeting the highest standards is going to be a legitimate interest of the British Parliament and British Government, in defence of Britain’s reputation.
I thank all noble Lords who have taken part in this important debate. As we have heard, the UK is responsible for the foreign affairs and security of both the Crown dependencies and overseas territories. That is the constitutional position. Our long-standing practice is that we do not generally legislate for these jurisdictions without their consent. This point was well made, in the context of the Crown dependencies, by the noble Lord, Lord Beith. Sanctions are tools of foreign policy, or are used to protect our national security. It is clear that the overseas territories and Crown dependencies must follow the UK Government’s foreign policy, including the sanctions we apply. I assure noble Lords that the Foreign Office has discussed this with the overseas territories and Crown dependencies and they also accept this central point of principle.
There are currently two ways in which sanctions are implemented by the overseas territories and Crown dependencies. The UK legislates directly for the majority of these jurisdictions through Orders in Council. Other jurisdictions legislate for themselves, but follow precisely the sanctions implemented in the UK. This model is well established and respects the rights of these jurisdictions.
The Bill is drafted in a way that reflects this reality. It is consistent with the current implementation model for UN and EU sanctions as well as measures under the Terrorist Asset-Freezing etc. Act 2010. It allows those jurisdictions that wish to follow UK sanctions through their own legislation to continue to do so. It also allows the UK to legislate directly for certain overseas territories as appropriate.
With regard to anti-money laundering laws, all the Crown dependencies, and each of the overseas territories with a significant financial centre subscribe to the international standards for anti-money laundering and counterterrorist financing set by the Financial Action Task Force. They are assessed in their own right for compliance with these standards and have responsibility for implementing them within their own domestic frameworks.
The Government, of course, retain an interest in ensuring that the Crown dependencies and overseas territories have robust anti-money laundering regimes. As noble Lords are aware, and as I stated in a previous debate—this point was raised with the overseas territories at the recent joint ministerial council—we are already working very closely with those jurisdictions which do not already have national company beneficial ownership registers on establishing such registers or similarly effective mechanisms, and ensuring that information held on these can be shared in near real time with UK law enforcement authorities.
I remind noble Lords that we legislated earlier this year, through the Criminal Finances Act, to establish a statutory review of how these arrangements have been implemented. This will take place before 1 July 2019 and will inform any further debate about the effectiveness of measures relating to beneficial ownership in place in individual Crown dependencies or overseas territories. We should also recall that full implementation of these arrangements will put these jurisdictions ahead of the international standards in this area, and ahead of the approach taken by many G20 countries and individual states of the United States.
This demonstrates the benefits of the co-operative relationship that we have established with the Crown dependencies and overseas territories in combating money laundering and terrorist financing. These jurisdictions are self-governing and take their compliance with the FATF standards very seriously. The anti-money laundering regimes of each of the Crown dependencies have been evaluated since 2015, with overseas territories, including the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands, both scheduled to be evaluated in the coming year. The commitment of these jurisdictions to international standards in this area is the best way to ensure that they continue to have robust anti-money laundering and counterterrorist financing regimes. As I said in the previous debate in Committee, this is a point we have once again emphasised in all our communications, and it was emphasised by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister in her recent meeting with the overseas territories. These are long-standing arrangements.
The noble Baroness and the noble Lord, Lord Collins, talked about progress and moving forward. We are moving forward positively and I have already talked about the results. In this regard, I do not believe that these amendments are needed. I am sure noble Lords would not wish to jeopardise the achievements that we have seen thus far, which have come from direct co-operation and working with these jurisdictions, and the progress that has already been made. With that, I ask the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.
I thank the Minister for his response. However, I am a little disappointed. We should not apologise for taking the lead in trying to build confidence globally in financial standards. We should not be in any way apologetic about leading the way because London is a global financial centre—
My Lords, I do not think I apologised in any sense, and nor should we—I agree with the noble Lord. We are leading the way and we are proud of that. We have to put this into context. The noble Lord, Lord Beith, talked about the important relationship with Crown dependencies. I have talked about the relationship with our overseas territories. They legislate in many areas. The relationship does not just work; the strength of relationship allows us to make the progress we are making. Britain is leading the way and our overseas territories and Crown dependencies have shown substantial progress in this respect. Perhaps other G20 countries have a lot of catching up to do. We are leading in this respect.
I thank the Minister for that intervention. However, I still come back to the point that the Government’s own strategy, published yesterday, is about building public and international confidence in our systems and maintaining our global reputation. I am disappointed because these amendments do not seek to impose but to ensure effective transparency and that we meet our international obligations. I am sure we will return to the subject when we discuss other amendments on Report, and in the light of that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 82 withdrawn.
Amendments 83 and 84 not moved.
Clause 51 agreed.
Clause 52 agreed.
85: After Clause 52, insert the following new Clause—
“Expiry of Act
This Act expires at the end of five years beginning with the date on which this Act is passed.”
My Lords, the purpose of this amendment is to try to reflect a lot of the debates and discussions we have had in Committee. At Second Reading many noble Lords, myself among them, said that the Bill was necessary. In the event of Brexit we need to ensure that we can meet our international obligations and treaty obligations; it is a necessary Bill in the event of Brexit and we certainly would not oppose it. I will repeat the words of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge—although I do not want to stop him intervening and making this point—who described the Bill as,
“a bonanza of regulations”.—[Official Report, 1/11/17; col. 1400.]
In Committee he suggested that it should be renamed the,
“Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering (Regulation Bulk Buy) Bill”.—[Official Report, 21/11/17; col. 107.]
That sums up many of the concerns expressed by noble Lords across the Chamber.
This is and should be necessary in terms of meeting our obligations. However, we need to be able to be in a position to assess just what sort of impact leaving the European Union will have. We are giving the Executive substantial powers; we are not sure quite how those powers will be used, and I hope that the Minister will come back with proposals on a number of suggested amendments. However, in light of all the concerns that have been expressed, the Bill should be revisited—and revisited after a period of time. The time we suggest of five years is adequate to ensure that we meet our international and treaty obligations. However, we do not know—this comes back to the point I made earlier—about the “known unknowns”. The known is that we will leave the EU; the unknown is precisely what the consequences will be—what we need to do.
At Second Reading and in Committee we addressed the issue of mechanisms to ensure co-operation with our European partners and allies. The Minister has repeatedly said, “We will do this, we will be that; we’re not leaving Europe, we’re only leaving the EU”. How do we assess that? How do we know? The important element of the Bill, which is why this clause and this amendment are so important, is that the known unknowns can be properly addressed after a due period of time so that we can come back and say, “Yes, this is adequate”, or, if it is not, the Government—of whatever complexion, whoever is in power in five years’ time—will be required to revisit these issues properly in the light of all the consequences of leaving the European Union. I beg to move.
My Lords, I support the amendment. As the noble Lord, Lord Collins, indicated, we have heard enough during the debate on the Bill to know that much needs to change in it. The noble Lord proposes a sunset clause for the Bill—in that way it will not be on the statute books in perpetuity—and I like the notion that it breathes its last in five years and simply expires.
Meanwhile, the Government can work out their relationship with the EU—and where, in the light of that, legislation is required—and develop appropriate primary legislation both on the UK’s sanctions regime and anti-money laundering measures, which can be properly scrutinised in Parliament.
I note that the noble Lord, Lord Collins, said, “in the event that we leave the EU”. There is indeed a question mark about this and what our relationship with the EU will be if we do. So it is no wonder that drafting the Bill was a difficult challenge.
A sunset clause is a useful backstop. However, as the noble Lord, Lord Collins, and others made clear, it still leaves in place a flawed Bill that we will need to address further on Report.
My Lords, it is the responsibility of this House and the other place to ensure that any legislation that leaves our hands is properly drafted, with the necessary clauses and relevant safeguards and instructions. That is our responsibility. I look at sunset clauses as an absolute last resort. They can be appropriate where legislation is, by definition, short term and deals with an event that will disappear. However, neither sanctions nor money laundering fall into that category. Therefore, although I believe we are talking about “when” not “if” we will withdraw from the EU, I would hate to see that become the rationale for legislation that we do not feel is as good as it could be in delivering the purposes of the two Houses.
I support the amendment as a backstop. However, in a sense, it is incredibly sad that we are having to contemplate such a clause because the Bill itself is so inherently flawed. The House will know from the many comments I have made that I think that there are many flaws in it. However, the most fundamental is that, through a back door, in effect—the Bill does not state this and nor have Ministers been willing to state it—it shifts significantly the balance of power between Parliament and the Executive. We have generations of history in battling to prevent that change—whether through front doors or back doors—and I hope that the Bill can be amended on Report or at Third Reading so that it no longer engineers that shift in power and will not still be an example of a Bill that requires a sunset clause because it is so inherently inappropriate.
I am going to say much the same as the noble Baroness. I am ever an optimist about this. I think that when the Minister has had time to reflect on the wisdom of some of the amendments that have been proposed that will eradicate some of the less desirable features of this Bill, and make it a much better Act in consequence, we will not need a sunset clause. Oh dear—I have reflected that I may be being optimistic, but I think that I am also being utterly naïve.
I shall not support the amendment at this stage—but if when we come the next stage we have had no improvements in the Bill, then I shall.
I want to underline what was said by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, and the noble Baroness, Lady Kramer. I speak as somebody who has been in the Executive; I have made that point throughout the Committee’s proceedings. I have no doubt that the Bill is necessary, because the nation needs this power. I have no doubt that the noble Minister presenting it is completely—
He is not a noble Minister.
I am sure he is noble.
He is a noble Lord who is a Minister.
I apologise to him. The noble Lord who is also a Minister—I of all people should know that—means well in his intentions and assurances. From experience in the Executive, we reach for the legislation and read it as it is. My anxiety is that unless we get it right in the Bill, we will give the Executive huge powers. As the noble Baroness, Lady Kramer, said, when we voted to leave the European Union, we never intended to do anything other than leave the European Union. We did not intend to change completely the balance of the constitution and give the Executive that degree of extra power. I am talking not only about this Bill, but the whole balance of the constitution. This is happening because everything is necessarily having to be done in a hurry. The oddity about this Bill is that it is an early stage Brexit consequential. It is not adequate in the balance it has struck between the Executive and the legislature. If this Bill has got it wrong, then things will get worse as the pressure builds on parliamentary draftsmen, Ministers and policymakers. We must stand firm as a House to send a message that future Bills must be more accurate than this one in terms of the balance between the Executive and the legislature.
I support the amendment of my noble and learned friend Lord Davidson and my noble friend Lord Collins because it is inconceivable to me, in the light of the number of changes that we have sought, that everything will be put right on Report. The Bill should be time-limited for five years so that the Government have to come back with a further shot at it. We will need this sort of Bill indefinitely, but the balance in this one is so badly wrong that I think a separate clause is appropriate.
My Lords, I thank all noble Lords—indeed, noble and learned Lords—who have taken part in the debate. I acknowledge the points that have been raised on this amendment.
Turning to Amendment 85, it will not surprise the noble Lord that we do not believe that there should be a sunset clause in the Bill. Whatever the nature of our future relationship with the EU—I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Collins, meant when, not if, we leave the EU; he may choose to clarify otherwise—the powers in the Bill will be necessary. We will need them to comply with UN obligations and we will need autonomous powers to be able to create, amend or lift sanctions to address a wide variety of national security and foreign policy challenges. It is true that the design and scope of sanctions has changed over the years, but we need the power to implement sanctions as part of our diplomatic toolkit, which will not go away.
I also acknowledge and appreciate the point of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer, that all noble Lords, irrespective of the approach and mechanisms, agree with the principle that this Bill is required. I also acknowledge, as I have done in Committee, the important role of this House in the scrutiny of legislation. In the responses I have given on which we are not agreed, I hope it is clear that there are areas that the Government will reflect on and return to. In that respect, I hope to meet with noble Lords in the intervening period before Report to see how we can bridge some of the challenges and differences that have been raised.
Further, I assure noble Lords that we are committed as a Government to getting this legislation right. The Bill is designed to ensure that we can continue to use sanctions appropriately—I know that is a principle accepted by all noble Lords—in response to future global developments and challenges, and to provide that the right safeguards are in place for the use of those powers, which I also respect. I am immensely grateful for the active contributions of noble Lords in helping us to do this.
I make the point again that every sanctions regime made under the Bill will go before Parliament. Specifically on the sunset clause, we should remember that no one Parliament can bind another. Every Parliament is sovereign, so any future Parliament will be free to revisit this legislation if it so chooses. I therefore do not believe that it necessary or appropriate effectively to put into the Bill a requirement that a future Parliament would need to revisit the primary legislation in 2023. If the Government at that time choose to do so that is their prerogative and Parliament will remain sovereign, as it is now.
I once again thank all noble Lords for the constructive way they have engaged during Committee. I have appreciated it. As I said, the Government are looking at a number of areas. I assure noble Lords—notwithstanding some of the questions, points and observations made—that the ultimate objective behind this Bill is that the Government remain committed to ensuring that the opportunities and challenges Brexit presents to the Government and Parliament are discussed constructively, and that any legislation, including the Bill, is passed in a way that best reflects the opinions of the people of the United Kingdom. We will continue to work constructively with noble Lords to see where we can move forward. I will write to noble Lords in this respect over the coming days. Based on that, I hope that the noble Lord is minded to withdraw his amendment.
I thank the Minister for that. I am tempted to paraphrase that notable historical figure, Mandy Rice-Davies: “You would say that, wouldn’t you?” The fact is that we have substantial concerns that need to be addressed as we move to the next stage. To pick up the concerns of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, this is not a probing amendment or a principled amendment, but a give notice amendment. It is about making sure that the Minister, who has been in listening mode, comes back with some possible, positive proposals to address the numerous concerns we have regarding the Bill. In the light of it being a give notice amendment, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 85 withdrawn.
Clause 53 agreed.
Bill reported without amendment.