Theresa May will set out a timetable to break the secrecy surrounding the foreign ownership of British property worth billions after facing a House of Lords defeat at the hands of two Conservative peers.
Lord Faulks, a former Tory justice minister, and Lord Hodgson have been calling on the government to establish a register exposing the beneficial owners of overseas companies and legal entities, and want it done within 12 months.
The peers put forward an amendment to the sanctions and anti-money-laundering bill, which would have been likely to inflict a government defeat on Wednesday.
Although ministers had provided reassurance on the issue previously, talk of a two-year consultation and no timetable raised fears of it being kicked into the long grass – spurring the potential Lords rebellion.
A government offer of a concession persuaded Faulks not to push the issue to a vote, although campaigners were critical of the government’s promised timetable.
They said a promise to table draft legislation by this summer, followed by the main bill a year later, would delay an operational register until 2021.
Rachel Davies Teka, Head of Advocacy at Transparency International UK, said: “Although I welcome a clear timetable being laid out, I am disappointed by the significant delay to primary legislation given the fact that the policy has cross-party support, and has already undergone two consultations. Read more.