38. The DMA asserted that "non-offensive"
materiel was also caught in the freeze, including "naval
We sought information on this point.
It is not altogether clear to which licence application the DMA
was referring. One licence application which could be described
as for naval safety equipment is evidently for equipment for naval
use, to a UK MoD specification. Some other licence applications
for naval spares or for spares for naval helicopters have some
potential safety role, such as distress flares and flotation bags.
In every case however it would seem that they are indeed primarily
for military end-use. A number of licence applications for
dual-use goods, including safety equipment for personnel engaged
in mine clearance, equipment for disposal of impaired explosive
devices and firefighting equipment, have been awaiting clearance
for many months. We conclude that the fact that they were held
up for so long strongly implies that an informal and indiscriminate
moratorium was indeed in force.
39. The Minister emphasised the importance he
placed on consistency in decision-making, and his concern that
any apparent inconsistency would run the risk of criticism from
the Committees and judicial review.
In our February Report we referred to the tendency of Ministers
to fall back on the prospect of judicial review as a last line
of defence of a particular policy.
It is hard to envisage the exceptional grant of a licence in such
circumstances leading to judicial review. We reiterate our broad
support for the suitably cautious approach being taken by the
UK, in view not only of the illegal coup in October 1999, but
also the situation in Kashmir and Afghanistan.
Ministers have referred to the policy as one of strict examination
on a case-by-case basis of applications for licences to export
to Pakistan. The policy of strict examination on a case-by-case
basis applies, or should apply, to all destinations. Ministers
have rejected the description of the policy as an informal embargo,
freeze or moratorium. The fact that a number of licences have
now been granted or refused does not alter our conclusion that
there has been in operation an informal moratorium on strategic
export licences for Pakistan.
30 HC 225, paras 33-38 Back
p 20, A5 (a) Back
pp 23-5 Back
56, 58, 66 Back
p 36: HC Deb, 5 July 00, cols 221-2w Back
eg Qq 71-73 Back
225, para 38 Back
4799, Rec 11 Back
61-63: Ev, p 20, A5 (c) Back
p 24 Back
66-69: Ev, pp 20 and 23 Back
225, para 63; see Q 31 for example of this in relation to Zimbabwe Back
65, 67 Back