Select Committee on Trade and Industry Minutes of Evidence

Annex B

Written Answers: Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Defence Exports

  Mr. Jack: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: (1) what changes he plans to make to the criteria governing the granting of export licences to British companies selling defence equipment overseas; and which countries would be precluded from receiving United Kingdom defence equipment by these criteria;

  (2)  when he expects to publish his revised criteria for the granting of export licences for sales of defence equipment, and if he will publish precise definitions of each;

  (3)  which countries his Department assesses currently use United Kingdom manufactured defence equipment for the purposes of internal repression.

  Mr. Robin Cook: We have made a firm commitment not to permit the sale of arms to regimes that might use them for internal repression or international aggression. To give effect to that commitment, we have initiated an urgent review of the detailed criteria used in considering licence applications for the export of conventional arms. We support a strong UK defence industry but must ensure that exports are properly regulated. We are aware of concerns that some defence equipment exported from the UK in the past has been used for internal repression. The review will ensure that the risk of such misuse is fully taken into account, alongside all other relevant factors, in the assessment of all licence applications for the export of conventional arms. The new criteria will be made available to the House when the Review is complete. In the meantime, I have instructed my officials to consult Ministers whenever there are export licence applications which may raise concerns about human rights or international stability.

Official Report Column 135

22 May 1998

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