Amendment 16

Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill - Report (1st Day) – in the House of Lords at 5:45 pm on 20 June 2023.

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Lord Vaux of Harrowden:

Moved by Lord Vaux of Harrowden

16: Clause 46, page 36, line 14, at end insert—“113BA Required information about members: nomineesThe required information about a member includes a statement by the individual, or where the member is a body corporate, or a firm that is a legal person under the law by which it is governed, by an officer of that body corporate or firm, as to whether or not they are holding the shares on behalf of, or subject to the direction of, another person or persons, and if they are—(a) where any such person is an individual, the information required by section 113A in relation to that individual;(b) where any such person is a body corporate or firm that is a legal person under the law by which it is governed, the information required by section 113B in relation to that body corporate or firm.”Member’s explanatory statementThis amendment would require a person or firm holding shares as a nominee to declare whether or not that is the case, and to provide the details of the person or persons on whose behalf, or under whose control the shares are held. This would assist the company in identifying Persons of Significant Control, and would introduce an offence for a nominee who did not declare themselves as such.

Photo of Lord Vaux of Harrowden Lord Vaux of Harrowden Chair, Finance Committee (Lords), Chair, Finance Committee (Lords)

My Lords, I thank the Minister for his response and for his undertakings to bring further amendments at Third Reading. I will make just a few comments. First, in terms of Amendment 17, which I do not intend to move, I find the concept that it is going to cost £150 million a year frankly unbelievable. A small number of companies—as the Minister pointed out—verifying up to a maximum of an additional 16 shareholders, and in most cases fewer, cannot possibly come to £150 million a year. I am afraid I find that unrealistic.

To move to Amendment 16, I want to correct something that the noble Lord was saying about nominees having to declare that they are nominees. That is not actually correct. What has to happen is that the company has to look at its shareholder base and see whether it has anybody who is a PSC—a person with significant control. If it has no shareholders over 25%, it can conclude that it does not have any. If there is a PSC behind that, the PSC has to declare it, but if that is a bad actor, they are hiding and will not declare it. The nominees need to declare they are nominees only if the company seeks out and asks them. We are talking about a situation where a bad actor controls the company—so guess what? It will not. There is nothing there at the moment that makes nominees have to disclose the fact that they are nominees. I think the idea that disclosing nominees would create too much noise for Companies House is ridiculous. It does the opposite. It identifies where the risk lies.

We have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Agnew, about requiring risk assessments and a risk-based approach. This allows us to see which companies are most at risk of having bad actors who are hiding behind nominees, by ensuring that they are disclosed. The point here is to make it more difficult for bad actors. You make it much more difficult for bad actors if people are unwilling to be nominees. At the moment, there is no downside, so there is a huge industry of people who are prepared to do it for almost nothing—there is no risk to them. If we put a risk on those people and make them have to lie actively and on the record to say that they are not a nominee when they are, you will get many fewer people who are prepared to do it. That will make life a lot more difficult for the bad actors, and the nominee industry will have to clean up its act. So I am afraid that I have not heard anything that changes my mind, so I wish to test the opinion of the House.

Ayes 218, Noes 175.

Division number 3 Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill - Report (1st Day) — Amendment 16

Aye: 216 Members of the House of Lords

No: 173 Members of the House of Lords

Aye: A-Z by last name


No: A-Z by last name


Amendment 16 agreed.

Amendment 17 not moved.

Schedule 2: Abolition of certain local registers