COMMONS

Co-ordinated effort is essential to scrutiny of Russia

20 April 2018

Following an initiative by Tom Tugendhat MP, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, the Chairs of relevant Select Committees met and agreed to co-ordinate inquiry work to scrutinise Russian government activities and the UK Government's response.

Russia Co-ordination Group

To be known as The Russia Co-ordination Group, the Chairs of JCNSS, Defence, DCMS, Foreign Affairs, Home Affairs and Treasury Committees have agreed to meet regularly with the aim of:

  • Ensuring that parliamentary scrutiny of the Government’s policy on Russia is as joined-up and effective as possible
  • Co-ordinating Committee work relating to the scrutiny of Russian-related activity
  • Sharing knowledge about relevant inquiries by Committees
  • Sharing areas of questioning with other Committees.

It is anticipated that the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament will also be represented, with its involvement subject to the necessary restrictions around the confidentiality of its work.

Sharing information allows more informed response

The Chair of the Co-ordination Group, Tom Tugendhat MP, said:

"As unease about Russian malign influence grows, it is essential that we understand the extent of Putin's activity. Parliament is well-placed to do this. House of Commons' committees routinely hold evidence sessions in a bid to draw out information and deliver reports rooted in evidence and scrutiny.
But as Committees tend to operate separately, they may not have the full picture – seeing the symptoms rather than the cause.

Take the question of sanctions on Russian government officials and oligarchs. While the Treasury Committee examines economic crime and the UK's anti-money laundering and sanctions regime, the Foreign Affairs Committee is considering the actions open to our Government to deal with the proceeds of Russian corruption being funnelled into the UK. Sharing information between committees will allow a more informed response.
 
This is a crucial time for UK-Russia relations. In areas of intelligence and security, interference in elections, disinformation as well as our co-existence post Brexit, it will be easier to respond to any aggression from an informed standpoint. Our work will be much more effective if it is co-ordinated.
 
I am grateful to our colleague, Bob Seely MP, for offering to support the Co-ordination Group and to act as its Secretary."

It is not proposed that the Committees will run joint inquiries (such as the Committees on Arms Export Controls) but that they will informally co-ordinate work on inquiries on Russia to maximise the potential for scrutiny by committees in Parliament.

Committee inquiries on Russia

At present, work by Committees spreads across several areas of inquiry which are either directly focussed on Russia or include areas of interest:

Defence Committee, chaired by Dr Julian Lewis MP:

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, chaired by Damian Collins MP:

Foreign Affairs Committee, chaired by Tom Tugendhat MP:

Home Affairs Committee, chaired by Yvette Cooper MP:

Intelligence and Security Committee, chaired by Dominic Grieve MP:

Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy, chaired by Margaret Beckett MP:

Treasury Committee, chaired by Nicky Morgan MP:

Further information

Image: Parliamentary Copyright

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