Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations 2020 - Motion to Approve

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:05 pm on 29th July 2020.

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Photo of Lord Alton of Liverpool Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench 6:05 pm, 29th July 2020

My Lords, the Foreign Secretary may make an unlikely lord high executioner, but, like WS Gilbert’s Koko, renowned for drawing up the Mikado’s list, Dominic Raab’s Magnitsky list has rightly struck a chord across the political divide and I, like so many others who have spoken, support these regulations and pay tribute to the courageous Bill Browder.

Notwithstanding the view that I expressed in a letter to Mr Raab—that primary legislation, as my noble and learned friend said earlier, would have been the proper and better way to do this—it is nevertheless hugely welcome that the UK will no longer be a bolthole or safe haven for serious violators of human rights. If primary legislation becomes necessary to strengthen these provisions, I hope that the Minister will commit to introducing it and will say little more about what role he envisages for Parliament. My noble friend Lord Hannay has previously asked about your Lordships’ International Relations and Defence Committee. In his reply, will the Minister specifically say whether he would welcome the committee being given a scrutinising role and, if so, if he will facilitate that?

Named of course for Sergei Magnitsky—as the noble Lord, Lord Bruce, reminded us, a Russian lawyer who uncovered a £230 million corruption scheme and was murdered for doing so—the powers that the Foreign Secretary has taken, including visa bans and asset freezes, will enable him to stop murderers, torturers, dictators, generals and oligarchs exploiting the UK’s rule of law and the freedoms that they deny their own citizens. Top of the Foreign Secretary’s list should be Chen Quanguo, the former Communist Party chief in Tibet, now responsible for the oppression of the Uighurs in Xinjiang referred to by many other noble Lords. Not far behind should be Carrie Lam and her chief of police in Hong Kong, who have been the CCP’s willing accomplices in crushing the freedoms of one of the world’s greatest cities. Then there are those accused by Sir Geoffrey Nice QC’s independent tribunal into coercive organ harvesting—names that have been sent to the Minister. When he replies I hope he will tell us more about the process that will be used in assessing names such as those, how they will be added to the list and the role of Parliament, not least our own House of Lords International Relations and Defence Committee.