Exiting the European Union (Sanctions)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:19 pm on 29th April 2019.

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Photo of Alan Duncan Alan Duncan Minister of State 7:19 pm, 29th April 2019

I am afraid that the hon. Lady’s indignation is wrong on all counts. First, white phosphorus does not fall under the chemical weapons regime as it is a different sort of weapon, nor does Daesh, which falls under other regimes related to al-Qaeda and Daesh. I think it would be highly inappropriate for me to discuss an individual when we are looking at the framework within which the sort of designations the hon. Lady mentions can take place. These regulations put in place the law within which those designations can happen. We are not specifically looking at the designations themselves.

In respect of what we are able to transfer into the framework we are discussing, the sanctions relating to Belarus, for instance, were agreed in 2004. The EU sanctions regime currently imposes asset freezes and travel bans on four Belarus nationals with links to the Belarus Government who were implicated in the disappearance of two opposition politicians, a businessman and a journalist in 1999 and 2000. The hon. Lady also asked about changing the chemical weapons regime. We are mindful of our and others’ obligations under the chemical weapons convention and, through the regulations, we would have the flexibility to change sanctions should it be thought appropriate.

These regulations are necessary to enable the UK to implement our independent sanctions policy within the framework of the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 from the moment we leave the EU. Approving the regulations would in no way prevent the development of an autonomous human rights sanctions regime. The sanctions Act enables sanctions to be imposed for a variety of purposes, including responding to or deterring gross violations of human rights, or otherwise promoting compliance with human rights law or to respect human rights.

Sanctions are an integral part of our response to the most important foreign policy challenges we face. We must be ready to deliver sanctions independently as soon as the UK leaves the EU, and that is why these statutory instruments are so important. Transposing EU sanctions regimes in this way puts the UK on a solid footing to continue to protect our interests, defend our values and maintain the position of leadership that we have built on sanctions over so many years. I commend the regulations to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That the Chemical Weapons (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (S.I., 2019, No. 618), which were laid before this House on 22 March, be approved.