Will these Lords be forced to list dealings with Russian firms?

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Will these Lords be forced to list dealings with Russian firms? Peers should have business links with Russia ‘carefully scrutinised’ to ensure they are not being exploited, Commons committee says

  • Peers with links to Russian companies include Lord Skidelsky, a non-executive director of Russian oil refining company Russneft; Tory peer Lord Fairfax of Cameron is a director of shipping firm Sovcomflot UK, and Labour peer Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede is a director of Russian oil firm RNG Joint Stock Company
  • Lord Mandelson served on the board of Russian defence conglomerate Sistema and, according to his register of interests, holds shares in it

Peers should have their business links with Russia ‘carefully scrutinised’ to ensure they are not being exploited by Vladimir Putin, the Intelligence and Security Committee has said.

In its report on Russia’s influence in the UK, the committee called for greater transparency about the financial interests of those in the House of Lords.

It said members should have to register any individual payments of more than £100 which they receive for employment outside Parliament. 

Defence: Lord Mandelson

Aluminium: Lord Barker

Defence: Lord Mandelson (left) & Aluminium: Lord Barker

Oil: Lord Skidelsky

Lord Fairfax

Oil: Lord Skidelsky (left) and Lord Fairfax (right)

The ISC, which did not name any peers, said in its report: ‘It is notable that a number of members of the House of Lords have business interests linked to Russia, or work directly for major Russian companies linked to the Russian state. 

Oil: Lord Ponsonby

Oil: Lord Ponsonby

‘These relationships should be carefully scrutinised, given the potential for the Russian state to exploit them.’ The committee said it was important that the code of conduct for members of the House of Lords and register of interests ‘provide the necessary transparency and are enforced’.

According to the members’ register of interests, peers with links to Russian companies include crossbencher Lord Skidelsky, a non-executive director of Russian oil refining company Russneft.

Conservative peer Lord Fairfax of Cameron is a director of shipping firm Sovcomflot UK, and Labour peer Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede is a director of Russian oil firm RNG Joint Stock Company.

Former Tory energy minister Lord Barker stepped away from the Lords last year to focus on his role as chairman of aluminium giant EN+.

Lord Mandelson served on the board of Russian defence conglomerate Sistema and, according to his register of interests, holds shares in it.

In 2018, the House of Lords commissioner for standards launched an investigation into Lord Barker and Lord Fairfax after then-security minister Ben Wallace claimed they had ‘requested government assistance for Russian associates’. Both peers were cleared of any wrongdoing.

In its response to the ISC report, the Government said the code of conduct for peers was ‘the responsibility of the House [of Lords] itself’. 

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