Exiting the European Union (Sanctions)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:26 pm on 29th April 2019.

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Photo of Alan Duncan Alan Duncan Minister of State 6:26 pm, 29th April 2019

If we leave the EU with a deal, there will be a period of transition in which we will retain our sanctions under the existing EU system. If we leave with no deal, which is what we are addressing today, we will need to trigger our autonomous right to have sanctions. Therefore, we need these statutory instruments. I am sure that in the event that we are not part of the EU, our leadership on sanctions and the fact that the City of London is such an important financial centre for money laundering—[Laughter.] For anti-money laundering. It will mean that we retain our pre-eminent role in influencing sanctions, as we have in the past.

The House may recall that review and reporting requirements were incorporated into the 2018 Act. We have therefore published alongside these statutory instruments a report on the purposes of each sanctions regime, and on the penalties contained within each instrument. Those reports are available in the Vote Office, should Members have an interest in them, and the Government will review each sanctions regime on a regular basis. I wish to thank the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments for its close and helpful scrutiny of so many statutory instruments relating to sanctions over recent months.

The four SIs under consideration are those that transfer into UK law the EU sanctions regimes on chemical weapons, Zimbabwe, Belarus and Syria. In each case, the instrument seeks to deliver substantially the same policy effects as the measures in the corresponding EU regime. Hon. Members will note that human rights are a significant focus of some of the sanctions regimes under consideration today. I know that many hon. Members are keen for the UK to develop our own stand-alone human rights sanctions regime under the 2018 Act and may therefore query why we are simply transferring existing EU sanctions regimes.