Sir Julian Lewis: Could we add one more to the list of reasons why people conceal their identities in this way, which is to avoid sanctions, including sanctions placed by our own Government?
[Dame Margaret Hodge: The right hon. Member makes a really important point, which I will come to later. He is right: this is a national security threat as well as a threat to our economy. … The debate is not just about the role of the overseas territories and Crown dependencies in facilitating economic crime; their activities as secrecy jurisdictions are a threat to our national security, as the right hon. Member for New Forest East (Sir Julian Lewis) said. ... ]
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Sir Julian Lewis: For the sake of people who might not be experts in this field, can the right hon. Lady explain the extent to which those Crown dependencies and overseas territories themselves know where the real ownership of the resources resides? Can we be sure that they themselves know what information is being concealed and ought to be made public, or that we will have got to the bottom of the matter if it is made public?
[Dame Margaret Hodge: I am not sure I can answer that, because I do not know whether they know, but there have been one or two instances where whistleblowers have come to see me – about Jersey, for example. It has been very difficult to find out and identify how much the Jersey authorities knew, and why or whether they took action on the information that is available. It would be wonderful if the right hon. Gentleman’s Committee could look at this issue in greater detail to establish that. … ]
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Sir Julian Lewis rose –
[The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs (David Rutley): I will give way and then I will wind up very quickly.]
Sir Julian Lewis: Surely, the problem is that if the Minister were correct and any legitimate media could make an inquiry, any citizen with a real interest could go to the media and get the information that way. That must be known in opting for the filter, so presumably its purpose is only to be obstructive and to create legal barriers.
[David Rutley: The filter is fundamental to the EU’s plans. We want this to be important in and of itself, and also a step on the journey to having full beneficial ownership registers. That remains the case. ... ]