Select Committee on Trade and Industry Minutes of Evidence


Supplementary memorandum submitted by the Department of Trade and Industry



Application for a licence to export helmets to China

  RBR initially applied on 23 April 1997 for a licence to export 1,000 bullet resistant helmets and 1,000 face shields to the Hebei Province Public Security Bureau, People's Republic of China. However, they subsequently requested an amendment to the application, and provided a revised end-user undertaking on 10 June, after which the application was circulated to MoD and FCO in line with their requirements. In light of the advice received, DTI refused the application on 13 August.

  Within DTI, there was some delay in processing the application, adding two to three weeks to the overall processing time, but in the main the overall time taken reflects the sensitivity of the destination, including the fact that China is subject to an EU arms embargo. RBR's subsequent appeal against the decision to refuse their application was considered at ministerial level and the original decision was upheld.

  Since the events in Tiananmen Square in 1989, the Government has consistently refused to allow the sale to China of "any equipment which is likely to be used for internal repression". Mr Garland questioned how this could apply to helmets, and in RBR's appeal, argued that helmets and face shields were defensive rather than offensive. However, it was concluded that the arguments in favour of allowing the export for the protection of members of the security forces were outweighed by the clearly identifiable risk that the goods might be used repressively, for example in the violent suppression of an incident such as Tiananmen.

Application for a licence to export stun grenades to Colombia

  The application from Pains Wessex for a licence to export 19,121 stun grenades for use by the Colombian Government was received by DTI on 31 October 1997 and was circulated to MoD and FCO on 19 November 1997. The advisory departments took different views, and the matter has yet to be resolved.

Application for a licence to export ship-mounted machine guns to Colombia

  The application from Manroy Engineering to export four ship-mounted machine guns to Spain to be fitted to patrol boats for export to Colombia was received by DTI on 7 January 1998. DTI felt it necessary to obtain additional information from the applicant, and once this had been obtained, the applicaton was circulated to MoD and FCO (on 9 February). The advisory departments initially took different views on the application, but the issue was resolved and the licence was issued on 17 March.

26 November 1998

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