Lib Dems call for foreign property ownership law

The Liberal Democrats have demanded that the Conservatives introduce legislation to tackle money-laundering through UK properties as soon as Parliament returns later this month.

The UK currently has no restrictions on foreign ownership of residential property aside from rules that ensure tax is paid to the UK government when purchasing property, as well as on any rental income received.

It comes as the latest revelations from the Pandora papers suggest that £4 billion worth of UK property has been bought using offshore firms.

The Conservative government still hasn’t introduced legislation to establish a public beneficial ownership register of overseas entities that own UK property, despite promising it nearly five years ago.

A draft bill was published in 2018 and was mentioned in the 2019 Queen’s Speech, but the law still hasn’t been introduced to Parliament.

The Liberal Democrats’ spokesperson on foreign affairs Layla Moran commented: “The stench of corruption and sleaze at the heart of the Conservative party is becoming hard to ignore.

“The Conservatives have been sitting on this legislation for years, despite repeatedly promising to act. In that time millions of pounds worth of UK property has been bought using offshore firms, including it seems by major Conservative party donors.

“The government must introduce this long-delayed legislation as soon as Parliament returns. The longer they wait, the more this looks like a deliberate delay to help their wealthy donor friends.”