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Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) (Amendment) (No. 7) Regulations 2022

Volume 821: debated on Thursday 28 April 2022

Motion to Approve

Moved by

That the Regulations laid before the House on 30 March be approved.

Considered in Grand Committee on 26 April.

My Lords, I am not wishing to object to the statutory instruments. As the noble Lord knows, in the debate in Grand Committee we strongly supported the Government’s actions, and we will continue to support them speedily introducing sanctions against the Putin regime. However, the 37th report of the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee made a very valid point: that the Explanatory Memorandum, which we did not have available at the time of the debate, failed to set out the rationale particularly for the luxury goods chosen in the sanctions and the value threshold, and so on, which I think is £250. The committee made the point that,

“When legislation is passed through Parliament at speed,”

which is absolutely necessary in this case—

“it is particularly important that the policy choices it implements are very clearly explained.”

So I hope that, if the Minister is not able to speak on this today, he will write to all noble Lords who participated in the debate, setting out the rationale and that, in future, when these urgent SIs come before the Grand Committee, they will take cognisance of the opinions of the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee.

My Lords, I was going to be very brief, and I can be even briefer, because the noble Lord, Lord Collins, has stolen most of my lines. I speak on behalf of the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee. Because of the truncated nature of the process, we were discussing, debating and examining these regulations even as the noble Lord, Lord Collins, and my noble friend were debating them in the Moses Room. We were of course completely behind their policy purpose and support them entirely.

However, we had some serious questions about the way the regulations will operate, particularly on the selection of items—for example, why are we not banning the export of ambulances, which presumably have some military value?—and the selection of the value of £250 for items of luxury clothing, which means that you can export a suit worth £240 but not one worth £260. That took us to our question about enforcement, because, as the noble Lord, Lord Ricketts, who knows much more about this than I will ever know, has said, sanctions are only effective if they are defined and enforced. They begin very clearly and then, gradually, they become less effective over time because evil-intentioned and clever people find ways around them.

We have written to my noble friend about these points—he will have received the letter this morning—and I very much hope that he will be able to reply in some detail and copy it to the noble Lord, Lord Collins, and all of those who spoke in the debate in the Moses Room.

My Lords, I acknowledge the strong support that we have received from your Lordships’ House in support of all of the sanctions that we are passing in this respect, particularly on Russia and related activities, covering both individuals and organisations. I also recognise the point raised by my noble friend Lord Collins and my noble friend, in thanking the committee on SIs for its strong support of the Government being able to move at speed.

I also fully recognise that the explicit and specific point on application and definition is very much key, and there are always loopholes—this is a serious issue. On the suit example, what if you had bought one in a sale and it was discounted by a certain amount? It could also fall within that. I have not yet seen the letter, which would have arrived this morning, but I will give a comprehensive response to my noble friend, the noble Lord and all noble Lords who have participated.

Motion agreed.