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Terrorism Act 2000 (Proscribed Organisations) (Amendment) Order 2023

Volume 832: debated on Thursday 14 September 2023

Motion to Approve

Moved by

That the draft Order laid before the House on 6 September be approved.

Relevant document: 51st Report from the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee

My Lords, before getting into the detail of this order, I take this opportunity to apologise sincerely to the House that news of the Home Secretary’s decision, which we are here to debate, became public before the order was laid. I am grateful to House for its consideration of this draft order, which will see Wagner Group, a truly brutal organisation, proscribed.

Some 78 terrorist organisations are currently proscribed under the Terrorism Act 2000. Not only is proscription a powerful tool for degrading terrorist organisations, it sends a strong message of the UK’s commitment to tackling terrorist activity globally. Wagner Group are terrorists. As such, the Home Secretary proposes amending Schedule 2 to the Terrorism Act 2000 by adding Wagner Group, also referred to as Wagner Network, to the list of proscribed organisations.

For an organisation to be proscribed, the Home Secretary must reasonably believe that it is currently concerned in terrorism as set out in Section 3 of the Terrorism Act 2000. If this statutory test is met, the Home Secretary must then consider the proportionality of proscription and decide whether to exercise her discretion.

Proscription is a powerful tool with severe penalties. It criminalises being a member or supporter of a proscribed organisation, and wearing articles of a proscribed organisation in a way that arouses suspicion that an individual is a member or supporter. Penalties are a maximum of 14 years in prison and/or an unlimited fine. Proscription also supports other disruptive activity, including immigration disruptions and terrorist financing offences. The resources of a proscribed organisation are terrorist property and are, therefore, liable to be seized.

This builds on sanctions already in place on Wagner Group. Terrorist financing incurs criminal, rather than civil, penalties, and allows the Government ultimately to forfeit terrorist property, rather than just freeze an individual’s assets. The Home Secretary is supported in her decision-making by the cross-government proscription review group. A decision to proscribe is taken only after great care and consideration, given its wide-ranging impact. It must be approved by both Houses.

A great deal of carnage can be laid at the feet of Wagner Group, a Russian private military company that emerged following Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and Putin’s first illegal invasion of eastern Ukraine in 2014. It has acted as a proxy military force on behalf of the Russian state, operating in a range of theatres including Ukraine, Syria, the Central African Republic, Sudan, Libya, Mozambique and Mali. It has pursued Russia’s foreign policy objectives and the objectives of other Governments who have contracted Wagner’s services. In the hours following Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine, Wagner was reportedly tasked with assassinating President Zelensky—a task in which it failed, thanks to the heroism and bravery displayed by Ukrainian security forces.

Wagner Group describes itself in heroic terms, even suggesting, abhorrently, that it is the saviour of Africa. That private military companies remain illegal under Russian law is something that has never particularly concerned Putin. Putin can distort the truth to suit himself all he likes, but the truth is that the Wagner Group are terrorists.

With this House’s consent, Wagner Group will be proscribed. Having carefully considered all the evidence, including advice from the cross-government proscription review group, the Home Secretary has decided that there is sufficient evidence that allows her to reasonably believe that Wagner Group is concerned in terrorism, and that proscription is proportionate. Although I am unable to comment on specific intelligence, I can provide the House with a summary of the group’s activities supporting this decision. I warn the House that some of this detail is deeply unpleasant.

Wagner Group commits and participates in terrorism; this is based on its use of serious violence against Ukrainian armed forces and civilians to advance Russia’s political cause. Wagner played a central role in combat operations against Ukrainian armed forces to seize the city of Popasna in May 2022 and during the assault of Bakhmut, largely occupied by Russian forces this year. This assault has resulted in the virtual destruction of a city once home to 70,000 people. Wagner barely showed any more concern for the lives of its own side. Defence Intelligence has assessed that up to 20,000 convicts, recruited directly from Russian prisons on the promise of a pardon and an early release, were killed within a few months of the attack on Bakhmut. Wagner’s relentless bombardment of Bakhmut was one of the bloodiest episodes in modern military history.

Noble Lords may also be aware of multiple reports alleging unbelievable brutality by Wagner commanders against their own troops who retreat, desert or otherwise refuse to carry out their leaders’ orders. The most notorious of these—the killing of a purported deserter, murdered by a sledgehammer blow to the head—has even been glorified by Wagner’s leaders and Russian ultra-nationalists. This macabre culture and brutality are indicative of the fact that Wagner Group is a terrorist organisation, not just a private military company.

The group carries out preparatory acts for terrorism, including undertaking activities intended to cause serious violence against people or serious damage to property, directly to advance a political cause and to intimidate opponents in Ukraine. Ukrainian prosecutors have accused Wagner Group fighters of war crimes near Kyiv, in which the tortured bodies of civilians were found with their hands tied behind their backs in the village of Motyzhyn.

Wagner Group has also been implicated in serious acts of violence and damage to property while working in several countries in Africa. A UN report published in May this year implicated Wagner Group in the massacre of at least 500 people in the Malian town of Moura in March 2022, including summary executions as well as rape and torture. In June 2021, a panel of experts convened by the UN Security Council detailed atrocities in the Central African Republic, including

“excessive use of force, indiscriminate killings, the occupation of schools and looting on a large scale, including of humanitarian organizations”.

Despite its mutiny in June this year, and the reported death of its leader Yevgeny Prigozhin last month, Wagner Group remains a violent and destructive organisation. Proscription sends a strong message of the UK’s commitment to tackle terrorist activity and builds on our existing cross-government work to counter Wagner Group’s destabilising activities. Its leadership’s recent feud with senior Russian military figures is a predictable consequence of Putin’s disastrous decision to invade Ukraine, but it is fundamentally a distraction from the fact that Wagner Group continues to commit violent acts around the world.

While Putin’s regime wavers over what to do with the monster it has created, Wagner’s continuing destabilising activities only serve the Kremlin’s political goals. All this means that the case for action is now stronger than ever. Wagner is vulnerable. A leadership vacuum and questions about its future provide a unique opportunity to truly disrupt its operations and the threat it poses. That is why this House must proscribe Wagner now.

This decision comes after public calls from President Zelensky for international allies to take action and list Wagner Group as a terrorist organisation. In doing so, we stand alongside our allies in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and France, whose parliaments have called for Wagner Group to be labelled as a terrorist organisation on the EU’s list of terrorist groups. We continue to work in close co-ordination with the US, which designated Wagner Group under its transnational criminal organisations sanctions programme earlier this year. In formally proscribing, we will be leading the international effort by taking concrete legal action against Wagner Group. I urge our other allies to follow suit. This decision demonstrates that the UK will maintain its unwavering support for Ukraine, in co-ordination with our allies. It shows that we stand with the people of Ukraine against Russian aggression.

Wherever Wagner Group operates, it has a catastrophic effect on communities, worsens existing conflicts and damages the reputations of countries that host it. Wagner may be at its most vulnerable, and Russia’s military leaders may be grappling to regain control of the organisation, but the brutal methods it has employed will undoubtedly remain a tool of the Russian state. Let there be no misunderstanding: whatever form Wagner takes, we and our allies will pursue, expose and disrupt it. Wagner Group is a terrorist organisation, and we must not be afraid of saying so. We will hold Russia to account for its use of these malign groups and the devastation they inflict around the world. We stand shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine, while confronting terrorism with the relentless enthusiasm the public rightly expect. I commend this order to the House.

My Lords, since I and many other noble Lords in this House have long called for the Government to proscribe the Wagner Group, it is unsurprising that I give this legislation a warm welcome. The sad fact is that war, armed conflict, is a terrible thing. It results in death, maiming, destruction and wholesale suffering, but most of us understand that, regrettable as it may be, it cannot be eliminated from the world. We therefore have to do all we can to contain its devastating effects.

The global community in the 20th century put a great deal of effort into constructing laws of armed conflict that would do this, yet we see in Europe a conflict during which the most horrific war crimes have been, and are still being, committed. It is not just in Europe; we see it in many countries throughout Africa as well. In so many instances, the Wagner Group has been and is at the centre of them. The proscription of the group is therefore to be warmly welcomed. But it is not alone in committing these war crimes; only this morning I heard evidence of some of the things that have been going on in Ukraine, which frankly makes one’s blood run cold.

My simple comment to the Government is: well done on this. I welcome it; it is a step in the right direction. But if we are to live in anything approaching a civilised world in the future, there is much more to be done in addressing the war crimes being committed today in Ukraine. I hope the Government will take the strongest action in that regard.

My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble and gallant Lord. I agree with every single word he said. I also agree with what the Minister said in outlining these measures, which we support from these Benches.

Ever since the formation of this private military consultants group, after the illegal invasion of Crimea by Dmitry Utkin then led by Yevgeny Prigozhin, I have been following not only the activities but the tactics of this group. I followed the fact that it had been recruiting from prisons; that it had carried out its activities way beyond those norms which the noble and gallant Lord indicated; and the spread of its activities, which are on the one hand formally not permitted under Russian law but on the other hand are a very useful tool of Putin to extend some form of terror and influence across the Sahel and other parts of Africa. This led me to be the first in Parliament to call for the group’s proscription in April last year; I did so again on 23 May, 9 June, 7 July, 15 November, 21 December and have done so countless times this year to Ministers from the Home Office, the FCDO and the Treasury. So I am very pleased that the Minister has brought forward these measures to see this evil organisation categorised as exactly what it is: a terrorist organisation.

I was alarmed during this process by some of the responses from the Government. I hope the Minister will allow me to make just a couple of comments with regards to the missed opportunity in not proscribing earlier. On 11 July, my noble friend Lady Northover questioned the Defence Minister, the noble Baroness, Lady Goldie. Citing my calls, my noble friend said that

“surely the case for proscription is now more pressing than ever”.

The Minister replied:

“I would observe that proscription in its own right is perhaps less effective because of the particular environment in which it applies”.—[Official Report, 11/7/23; col. 1644.]

However, that is entirely the point. The Wagner Group has, to some extent, acted with impunity. Therefore, the signal from the UK to act now is very welcome, but it is worth nothing that it was this Government and this Treasury who issued a sanction avoidance licence to the leaders of this terrorist group in order to use the English legal system in palpably malign legal activities under a SLAPPs action. It was this Government’s Treasury that permitted the abuse of our system, therefore His Majesty’s Government—and Her Majesty’s Government before—have been slow to act. There was a Treasury derogation of sanctions that this Parliament had approved; we in this House would have said that that was outrageous had we been informed. I say this to the Minister: I hope that there will be no other actions such as those sanctions derogations for the other groups that the noble and gallant Lord indicated are acting similarly to the Wagner Group.

My second point relates to some of the areas where this group has been acting; the Minister and other Ministers have heard me say this before. I have seen Wagner operatives in Sudan at first hand. I saw them in Khartoum. I have seen the breadth of their work, not just purely within terrorism activities but in misinformation, disinformation and disruption of processes. Regrettably, they have continued to operate. I have raised in Grand Committee the fact that the Wagner Group has been contracted through a number of joint ventures that Russia has operated in—one with regards to the Kush gold project in Sudan with the United Arab Emirates. At this gold project, Wagner has been under its security consultant’s arm. I am sure that they are but I hope the Minister can confirm that all elements of the Wagner network are so proscribed, and that there is no loophole where some form of private sector separate contracting security operatives could operate within this. Wagner, operating under security for the Kush gold project, which provides funds to one of the warring parties to Sudan—the Rapid Support Forces—is in effect, to my knowledge, being operated under a financial vehicle between Russia and the UAE. I would be grateful if the Minister could indicate what discussions we are having with our allies to ensure that any commercial relationship with the Wagner network, or those who advise the Wagner network, will also be within scope of the Home Office’s activity.

In supporting this measure, I hope that His Majesty’s Government will be assertive not just in following suit with our friends in the European Union and the United States—I welcome the fact that the Government are in discussions with them—but in using all of the money laundering measures that we have in place and our diplomatic relations with those in the Gulf to indicate that their relationships with this network are now beyond the pale for any UK operatives. I would be more than welcome a briefing from officials in due course should the Minister allow me to do so because it is simply the case, as we all know, that proscribing is welcome but is not the end of the process. It is about how we ensure that it is implemented not just alone but with our allies in order to ensure that this evil network is halted in its activities, which are against humanity.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for the Statement and the Home Secretary for giving the Statement yesterday. This is the right thing to do; maybe it is a bit late in the day but it is the right thing to do.

The problem we have in this area is that we are not always consistent. We have done the right thing here but I have here on my phone the front page of the Jewish Chronicle, published today before the Jewish New Year, which is tomorrow night. The headline reads:

“James Cleverly: ‘We will not ban Iran’s Terror Guards’”.

In everything that was read out by the Minister, you could cut and paste in “IRGC”. The IRGC has done everything—and more, in my view—that the Wagner Group has done in terms of the UK. I know that the Home Secretary and my noble friend the Minister will say it is under review and all of that, but it is the consistency that I hope the Government will look at. In the middle of the interview, it says here that Foreign Secretary Cleverly said that

“he would not ‘speculate’ on whether the policy might change in future, pointing out that any decision of this kind would be taken ‘across government’, not by the Foreign Office alone”.

I welcome that statement because it seems that everybody across government is supportive of the proscription of the IRGC; it just seems to be that the Foreign Office is not. I congratulate the Minister today but I do wish we would be consistent.

My Lords, my noble friend makes a very good point, which I am sure the Minister will take on board. I join the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Stirrup, and the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, in welcoming what my noble friend the Minister said earlier. Many of us—in particular the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, who was the first to raise this on the Floor of the House—have referred to this matter in the past. This is a truly evil organisation.

What worries me is this: in the light of the brutal events in Russia a couple of weeks ago, with the death of the founder of this ghastly group, what is going to happen in Africa? There is a real danger. I hope that my noble friend, although I realise that he is from the Home Office not the Foreign Office, will be able to give some reassurance that activities in Africa are being monitored as closely as possible and that we are doing all we can to strengthen our relations with legitimate and acceptable African Governments. What is going on at the moment is subversion of the most brutal kind and suppression of nascent democracy of the simplest sort.

I believe that, if we are not careful, bearing in mind the population of Africa by the middle of the century, we will see a danger build up that will distort the very fabric of world civilisation and relations. I think proscription is excellent. It is too late, but it is good, and we are grateful for it, but we must have careful regard for what these people are still doing, even though their dreadful, satanic founder is now dead.

My Lords, I thank the Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Sharpe, for his statement and for the apology that he made in his usual courteous way. Any such debate should begin by paying tribute to all the exceptional people who work tirelessly in our security services, the Government and the police to keep us safe.

The order before us today adds the Wagner Group to the list of proscribed organisations in Schedule 2 to the Terrorism Act 2000. It therefore becomes an offence to engage in various activities, as the Minister outlined, such as promoting or supporting the group, and it allows property to be seized. We fully support the Government in taking this action and welcome the proscription of the Wagner Group. It is a necessary step to meet the threat it poses.

The Minister will know that there have been calls for this proscription for a considerable period of time. The shadow Home Secretary called for it in February and the former chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee was a strong advocate of it and, although he has moved on to other areas, I hope he had an influence. The noble and gallant Lord, Lord Stirrup, and the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, have also been strong advocates for this designation. In May, we saw France take action against Wagner as a terrorist organisation and the United States has designated it a transnational criminal organisation. Given all this, it would helpful if the Minister could explain why it has taken until now to designate Wagner, whether there are any lessons to be learned about whether the Government could have acted sooner, and why they did not act more quickly.

The Minister will know that, as mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Polak, and others, there are concerns about other groups, such as Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and our security, so it is important to ask the Government what their policy is towards these state-sponsored actors, which we discussed quite significantly and at great length during the passage of the National Security Bill, which is now an Act. Can the Minister confirm that there are ongoing discussions across government to address any tension that exists, including in the proscription group that the Minister mentioned? We know that there are difficulties between the Home Office and the Foreign Office with respect to the proscription of various groups, so will the Minister say a little bit about how the Government are seeking to resolve that? Can he outline what, if anything, the recently refreshed Contest strategy had to say about the national security threats posed by state and non-state actors?

Can the Minister update us on the 81 individuals and entities recently identified by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee as linked to Wagner? Is it still the case that by July, only one-quarter of those 81 individuals had been sanctioned? Surely more can be done more quickly. Can he lay out for us the territorial application of this order? We know that Wagner has a record of violence, theft and murder, from Ukraine to Syria, from Mali to Mozambique. We know it has been involved in the massacre of civilians in places such as the Central African Republic and that it trades violence for natural resources. Indeed, the Minister helpfully outlined many grotesque details of what the Wagner Group has been involved in. Indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, highlighted that in his contribution. It would be helpful for us to understand what practical effect the order will have on any of these activities and what practical effect the Government consider this proscription will have in the UK.

The Government have the defending democracy task force. Can the Minister say anything about it, given the threat that Wagner poses? Can he give us any update on the Government’s view on the future of Wagner, given recent events? We strongly support the Government’s actions in Ukraine. Of course, President Zelensky called for the proscription of Wagner, so this is another important step in the demonstration of our solidarity with Ukraine. The Minister mentioned that the Government are trying to encourage other Governments to take similar action. Can he say more about that?

Much remains to be done, including ensuring that sanctions bite and that dirty Russian money is seized and confiscated in much larger quantities and more quickly than is done now. There can be no doubt that some of that money will have been used to support Wagner and its various activities. Can the Minister assure us that this is being done and that the new laws the Government have introduced are being used against the billions in money, property and assets that have been identified in report after report, here at home and in our overseas dependencies?

I say once again that we fully support the proscription of Wagner. In doing so, we all demonstrate once again our commitment to protecting democratic values, human rights, freedom and democracy. Wagner is a state-sponsored terrorist group, and we are all united in standing up against it. This order represents one more important step in doing so here in the UK, across Europe and, indeed, across the globe.

My Lords, I am very grateful to all who have contributed to this debate. A lot of ground has been covered, and I am encouraged by the supportive atmosphere in which the discussion has taken place. Members of the Wagner Group are terrorists, plain and simple, and am I confident that the House recognises, as do the British people, that we have a moral responsibility to act. We must and will confront terrorism wherever and however it occurs, and that is why we are taking this action.

I turn to the specific points raised. I start by reassuring, I hope, the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Stirrup, that, in addition to our continued training offer to the national police of Ukraine to support Ukraine’s collection of evidence of Russia’s war crimes in Ukraine, the Home Office is currently providing short-term funding to the war crimes documentation centre, run by a Ukrainian NGO in Warsaw. It ensures that first-hand testimony from Ukrainian refugees in Poland is recorded. The UK is also providing £2.5 million to the Atrocity Crimes Advisory Group to support Ukraine’s domestic investigations and prosecution of international crimes. We are also working extremely closely with the ICC in support of its investigations. That is a very comprehensive package of support, and I hope it continues and is enhanced.

A number of noble Lords asked what would happen if the Wagner Group merges with the Russian MoD or Redut. HMG keep the list of proscribed organisations under very careful review. It is not government policy to comment on whether an organisation is under consideration for proscription or whether the Government will consider a specific organisation, but proscription sends a strong message about the UK’s commitment to tackling terrorism globally and calling out terrorist activity wherever it is committed. The turmoil currently facing the Wagner Group presents opportunities for impactful disruption of its activities, and I will come back to that later.

A number of noble Lords, including the noble Lords, Lord Purvis and Lord Coaker, and my noble friend Lord Polak asked why it has taken so long. The decision has not been taken in isolation. It builds on a strong response to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and the Wagner Group’s wider destabilising activities, including extensive sanctions. The Government sanctioned the Wagner Group in February 2022, imposing asset freezes on any funds identified as belonging to Wagner in the UK and travel bans on any of its members. The Foreign Secretary expanded these sanctions in July this year, with 30 new UK sanctions targeting a range of individuals and businesses linked to the actions of the Wagner Group in Africa. The House will be aware of the recent significant events surrounding the Wagner Group, so it was right for the Home Secretary to consider the impact of those key events when taking the proscription decision.

Now is the time to proscribe. The turmoil currently facing the Wagner Group, as I have just said, presents opportunities to disrupt its activities. Proscription sends a strong message of the UK’s commitment to tackling terrorism globally and calling out terrorist activity wherever it is committed. This proscription reiterates the UK’s unwavering support to Ukraine and condemns Russia’s aggression, Wagner’s role in the war in Ukraine and its wider activities, which have consistently been linked to human rights violations, as others have noted.

The noble Lord, Lord Purvis, asked what the impact of proscription is. It sends a very clear message and will enable us to disrupt significantly. In addition to the proscription offences, proscription can support other disruptive activity, including the use of immigration powers, encouraging the removal of online material, EU asset freezes and so on. The resources of a proscribed organisation are terrorist property and therefore liable to be seized.

The noble Lord, Lord Purvis, also asked why Prigozhin was able to circumvent sanctions to sue a journalist in this country. I refer the House to the statement made on this matter by my noble friend Lady Penn on 30 March this year. Following a review of how these licences are granted, it is now the Government’s view that in most cases the use of funds frozen due to sanctions for the payment of legal professional fees for defamation cases is not an appropriate use of funds and, in many cases, will be against the public interest. OFSI will in future take a presumption that legal fees relating to defamation and similar cases will be rejected.

The noble Lord, Lord Coaker, asked for clarification of the application of proscription offences. The membership offence under Section 11 of the Terrorism Act 2000—TACT—has extraterritorial jurisdiction, applying to anyone, wherever they are in the world. The support offence applies to any UK citizen or resident. Terrorist financing offences could also apply outside the UK. Once Wagner is proscribed, we will expect social media companies to identify and remove content that promotes or supports the Wagner Group.

I anticipated the question by my noble friend Lord Polak on the IRGC and I understand it, because there is obviously significant parliamentary, media and public interest in a potential proscription decision. Both the House of Commons and the House of Lords have discussed IRGC proscription, with the House of Commons unanimously passing a Motion in January to urge the Government to proscribe. As Ministers have previously made clear to the House, the IRGC’s destabilising and hostile activity is unacceptable, and we will use all tools at our disposal to protect the UK and our interests at home and abroad. That includes considering proscription where appropriate.

The UK Government have sanctioned the IRGC in its entirety. While the department keeps the list of proscribed organisations under review, as I have said, our policy is not to comment on the specifics of individual proscription cases, and I am unable to provide further details on this issue. Ministers have previously confirmed to the House that this decision was under active consideration, but they will not provide a running commentary. I say to my noble friend that there is one difference: the IRGC is an Iranian military body answerable to Iran’s Supreme Leader. The Home Secretary’s role, as discussed in relation to Wagner, is to consider all available evidence before arriving at a decision.

A number of noble Lords asked what efforts have been made to persuade international allies to take co-ordinated action against the Wagner Group. His Majesty’s Government continue to work with key international partners to ensure that the Wagner Group is held to account on the world stage and to promote global efforts to curtail Wagner’s destabilising activity. When it comes to proscription decisions, the Home Secretary will consider the position of key international partners and, where appropriate, departments will undertake proactive engagement to explore the benefits of concerted multilateral action to increase the effect of proscription. The Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence have been very supportive of international engagement over this particular decision. I would also like to reassure the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, that this is very comprehensive and there is no way for Wagner or its offshoots to hide.

The noble Lord, Lord Coaker, asked about Contest. I refer to the Government’s recent refresh of the integrated review, which set out that the UK will use all tools at our disposal to protect the UK against the modern threats we face.

I will be happy if the Minister wishes to write to me on this, but I raised a point regarding entities that have contracted the Wagner Group as private security. This can include joint ventures with commercial organisations and countries we have friendly diplomatic relations with, including in the Gulf. Can the Minister write to me about how we will apply the extraterritorial aspects of this with regard to that component? That is very important to ensure that there is no avoidance of the very valid reasons we are doing this.

The noble Lord makes a good point. He reminds me that I should have commented on his comments about a very specific country, which of course I am not really able to do in detail. I am sure that diplomatic efforts and overtures are ongoing. I am certainly happy to write to the noble Lord in as much detail as I am able to.

I was concerned when I read the Foreign Affairs Select Committee report about the 81 individuals who had been identified as linked to Wagner and how only a quarter had been actively sanctioned by the Government. Can the Minister update us on what is happening with that? If not, perhaps he can write to me and put a copy in the Library.

The noble Lord, Lord Coaker, will not expect me to comment on live or ongoing situations. I will find out what it is possible to say and certainly have a conversation with him or place a letter in the Library, depending on what I am able to say.

I offer thanks to all who have participated in this debate. Through this proscription, the UK will again demonstrate that we will not waver in our support for Ukraine and will hold Russia to account for its aggression. We condemn Wagner’s role in Russia’s war. Its wider activities have consistently been linked to human rights violations. Through this action, we are sending a message loud and clear that the United Kingdom will never stay silent in the face of injustice or stop fighting terrorism. Finally, in answer to the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, about Wagner’s future, I sincerely hope that it does not have one. I commend this order to the House.

Motion agreed.