Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the Campaign Against Arms Trade

  1.  The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) would like the House of Commons Defence, Foreign Affairs, International Development and Trade and Industry Select Committees (the Quadripartite Committee) to consider this brief submission commenting on the Government's Annual Report on Strategic Export Controls for 1999.


  2.  CAAT is pleased that the layout of the Annual Report has been changed from that used in earlier editions and that some of the suggestions made by the Quadripartite Committee and non-governmental organisations have been incorporated. In particular, it is helpful to have the information about Open Individual Export Licences (OIELs) listed country-by-country rather than in tables much later in the Annual Report.

  3.  However, the 1999 Annual Report lists the rating numbers and verbal explanations of the goods exported separately in the case of the Standard Individual Export Licences (SIELs); and gives one or the other in the case of the OIELs. The transparency of the Annual Report would be enhanced if the explanation were to be placed alongside the rating numbers in the cases of both the SIELs and the OIELs.

  4.  It would also be useful if the information in Tables 5 and 6, covering the export of equipment in major categories and Government-to-Government transfers, could be included in the country-by-country lists as well as in the discrete tables.

  5.  While the 1999 Annual Report is clearer than its predecessors, it still does not contain enough detail to facilitate informed debate. A minimum requirement for this would be details of the quantity of equipment exported and of the end-user in the recipient country. There is a world of difference between the export of a few rifles for game wardens and many hundreds of the same rifles for internal security forces engaged in military operations.

  6.  In its submission regarding the 1998 Annual Report, CAAT commented that it had received many telephone calls asking where the Annual Reports might be obtained. Such calls have continued and CAAT would strongly urge the Government to have the Annual Reports published by the Stationery Office.


  7.  In July 2000 the UK government, along with those of France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Sweden, signed the Framework Agreement Concerning Measures to Facilitate the Restructuring and Operation of the European Defence Industry. This is currently the subject of an Inquiry by the Defence Committee. The Framework Agreement provides for Co-operative Armament Programmes (CAPs), formalising the arrangements whereby companies from the participating countries collaborate on the production of an item of military equipment.

  8.  Exports between the participating companies will be made under Global Project Licences (GPL). Foreign Office Minister Peter Hain MP has said that, at the moment, no decision has been made as to how information about GPLs will be included in future Annual Reports. However, he says there is "every intention of maintaining the high level of transparency of the Annual Reports" (letter to CAAT, 6.11.00).

  9.  CAAT believes that future Annual Reports should contain a list of all extant CAPs together with details of:

    (a)  all GPLs for components transferred as part of CAPs;

    (b)  full details of the transfer of completed CAP products containing UK components, including the type, quantity and specified end-user of materials transferred;

    (c)  details of any GPLs refused;

    (d)  details of any licence refused by a CAP party for the export of a completed CAP product.


  10.  In its submission on the 1998 Annual Report, CAAT expressed concern about the implications for transparency raised by the increasing number of OIELs as information about their use is not held centrally. In its Report of 17 July 2000 the Quadripartite Committee looked into the use of OIELs with regard to Zimbabwe and recommended that the Government re-examine the system for inter-departmental scrutiny of applications of OIELs for sensitive destinations.

  11.  CAATs worries about the use of OIELs remain, in addition to the above points, the requirement for the exporter to retain records relating to a shipment for just three years appears a very short period of time.

  12.  As a minimum, CAAT would suggest that that consideration be given to asking exporters to report on their use of OIELs annually and for this information to be incorporated into the Export Control Organisation's database


  13.  The Ministry of Defence's "UK Defence Statistics", table 1.13, includes an estimate of "Additional aerospace equipment"; the Annual Reports do not. The "Additional aerospace equipment" is that where the Customs & Excise Tariff Codes do not distinguish between military and civil equipment. As the table below shows, in 1998 and 1999 the "Additional aerospace equipment", as estimated by the Society for British Aerospace Companies, was considerably greater than the "Identified military equipment".

UK Defence Statistics

Identified military equipment
Additional aerospace equipment
Total deliveries
Annual Reports


Values in £ million

  14.  CAAT recommends that Customs & Excise be asked to produce a definitive list of Tariff Codes covering military, security and police equipment exports. Where the equipment may be either civil or military, the allocation of the Tariff Code should be determined by the end-user.


  15.  CAAT believes that both politicians and the public have the right to have their representations taken into account when applications are considered. It would like the Government to make details of military equipment export licences available for public inspection 10 working days in advance of the licence application being considered, in order to allow adequate time for comment and, if necessary, debate.

  16.  The Quadripartite Committee's recommendation was rather more limited, restricting prior scrutiny to itself. The recommendation was nonetheless welcome as a step in the direction of greater transparency and the Government's rejection of its belies any claim that latter makes with regard to transparency in arms export matters. CAAT is pleased that the Quadripartite Committee is continuing to pursue this matter with the Government.


  17.  After many years and in marked contrast to 1997, when it accounted for 47 per cent of the UK's military exports, CAAT notes that, by value of exports, Saudi Arabia is no longer the largest destination for UK supplied weaponry. This reflects the completion of the bulk of deliveries under the £20 billion Al Yamamah deals signed by the Margaret Thatcher in 1985 and 1988, including Tornado and Hawk aircraft.

  18.  Allegations that vast commissions were paid to intermediaries have dogged the Al Yamamah deals from the start. The National Audit Office (NAO) investigated but its Report, in 1992, was, unusually, not published. In October 1994 Robin Cook MP, then Shadow Trade and Industry Secretary, called for an independent public inquiry "to get to the bottom of the allegations" (Financial Times, 10.10.94). In 1997 almost a hundred MPs signed Early Day Motion 674 calling for the immediate publication of the NAO Report. Despite these pressures, no public inquiry has been held and the NAO Report has still not been published.

  19.  CAAT has long been pressing for the publication of the NAO Report. Now, after the deliveries have been completed, there appears no reason not to do so.


  20.  CAAT is most disappointed that the Government has rejected the recommendations that the Department for International Development be a full partner in the export licensing process alongside the Ministry of Defence, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department of Trade and Industry. It is not reason enough that DflD does not examine all the report licence applications since the MoD and the FCO do not either. CAAT hopes that DflD will reconsider its position.

  21.  CAAT is pleased that, DflD's position notwithstanding, the International Development Committee plays a full role as part of the Quadripartite Committee.

January 2001

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