Members present:
			Mr Ted Rowlands, in the Chair
			Ms Diane Abbott
			Mr Tony Baldry
			Ann Clwyd
			Mr Harry Cohen
			Mr Bruce George
			Dr Norman A Godman
			Mr Lindsay Hoyle
			Mr Piara S Khabra
			Ms Tess Kingham
			Mr John Maples
			Mr Martin O'Neill
			Mr Tony Rowe
			Sir John Stanley
			Dr Phyllis Starkey
			Mr Peter Viggers
			Mr Tony Worthington


	RT HON ROBIN COOK, a Member of the House, Secretary of State for 
Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, MR WILLIAM EHRMAN, Director 
Interactional Security, MR TIM DOWSE, Head of Non-Proliferation 
Department, MR IAN BAILEY, Deputy Head of Export Control Policy 
Section, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, further examined.

	Chairman:	Foreign Secretary, it has been such a good session that in 
fact we have only two issues to raise in private, but there may be a third 
if anyone wants to follow it up.  One is Morocco and I think we got quite a 
way in public but Ms Kingham wants to pursue the detail.

	Ms Kingham
	125.		Yes, I do.  First of all, I was very surprised to see that the 
30 105 mm Moroccan Army guns are actually stationed in Western Sahara, which 
has taken it further than I would ever have expected the British Government 
to go in terms of granting a licence; to actually have weapons stationed 
within a disputed territory.  I note in the response which the Government 
gave to the Committee in section 8, page 3, paragraph 2, it says:  "This 
policy ...", which is our criteria, "... applies to spare parts as well as 
to main equipment.  Thus, if approval would be inconsistent with the UK's 
international obligations and commitments, or if the arguments for approval 
are outweighed by concern that the spares would support the continued 
operation of main equipment that might be used for internal repression or 
international aggression, or by the risks to regional stability, or other 
considerations as described in the national criteria and the Code of 
Conduct, then the application should be refused."  The next paragraph says, 
"In assessing whether or not there is a clearly identifiable risk that the 
main equipment whose operation the spares would support might be used for 
internal repression or that the intended recipient would use it aggressively 
against another country or to assert by force a territorial claim, 
consideration is given to what decision would be taken had the application 
covered the main equipment itself and not simply spares."  We refused new 
guns for that area, so why have we considered it to be satisfactory to go 
ahead and allow spares for that equipment in a disputed territory?  It seems 
to contradict what you are saying.
	(Mr Cook)	I would remind you that we refused it in the first instance. 
 When the United Nations then announced they had no objection to this and 
regarded it as being neutral in the process, it was rather like having our 
horse shot from under us.
	126.		Did the United Nations come to us and state that or did we go 
to the United Nations and seek further advice?  Why did they not just accept 
our position as right?
	(Mr Cook)	I cannot say who approached who first.  It is not 
inconceivable it was a UK company.  Do we know the sequence of events?
	(Mr Bailey)	The exporter approached the United Nations.
	127.		An exporter went direct to the United Nations and asked them?
	(Mr Cook)	The United Nations is part of the free world.  Anyone can 
lobby the United Nations.
	128.		Is that not rather an unusual sequence of events?
	(Mr Cook)	Yes.
	129.		And the United Nations felt able to discuss our arms policy 
with them and they then felt ----
	(Mr Cook)	I would have no objection to the United Nations expressing a 
view about the military balance or military supply in an area where the 
United Nations has an authorised mission, which it has in this instance.

	130.		What part of the mandate would that be, in the information here 
that it considered to be consistent with the UN mandate to supply 
refurbished equipment?  What part of the mandate would that be?  Can I have 
clarification on that?
	(Mr Cook)	As far as we are concerned, we are not part of the mandate. 
 The British Government is not mandated by the Security Council.  The issue 
of MINURSO in Western Sahara is mandated to pursue the peace process and to 
help assist in a ceasefire.  That led us into an awkward position on appeal. 
 Fortunately the United Nations did not express a view on the six guns, it 
was also part of the same application and we have continued to refuse that.
	131.		We have ended up in a rather bizarre situation.  We are 
ethically stronger than what the United Nations mandate recommends for that 
	(Mr Cook)	I would not bandy in terms of the UN as to who is more 
ethical.  I would remind the Committee that only seven minutes ago you were 
complaining about complaints you got on the appeals process.  This was an 
appeal. You are already complaining about delays.  In the light of the UN's 
observations it is a fair outcome on appeal.
	132.		Can I just ask one other thing on this.  I  find this quite 
astonishing, quite frankly.  We are all aware, I hope we are all aware, of 
the strength of MINURSO or the lack of it in that area, and particularly the 
lack of strength of MINURSO in Western Sahara itself.  How on earth are they 
expected to oversee this, and are you convinced they have the capability to 
oversee the refurbishment and to ensure that those weapons are not used in 
their war, which is imminently about to break out again?
	(Mr Cook)	Whether or not they have the capabilities is more for their 
judgment than for mine, but they have volunteered to supervise it.  I would 
not want to get in a position of being manoeuvred to be critical of MINURSO. 
 We have tried to be supportive of the peace process and the UN's role in 
Western Sahara.  We have provided the facilities in London for the Baker 
conference between the two sides, which was held in my official residence.
	133.		We made our decision on the assumption we felt satisfied they 
would have the capabilities.
	(Mr Cook)	Tess, I have to keep correcting you.  Our decision was to 
refuse them.  This was an appeal.
	134.		Who is making the decision?  I thought it was supposed to be 
our foreign policy and our decision whether to grant a licence or not? 
	(Mr Cook)	Tess, if you would like me to recommend we do away with 
	135.		That is not what I am saying at all.
	(Mr Cook)	If we are going to have an appeal system then we are in 
difficulty and the grounds for refusal are moved from us by the United 
	136.		The grounds for refusal were taken away from us by the United 
Nations.  Whose decision is that?  At the end of the day is it our decision 
to decide to refuse a licence or do we have to go---?
	(Mr Cook)	It is we who issue the licence at the end of the day.
	137.		Absolutely.
	(Mr Cook)	I remind the Committee we refused this application.  We had 
to give grounds of appeal when the applicant came back with this information 
from the United Nations.  I would say, given that the exporter went to the 
United Nations, I am prepared to bet heavily if we had refused the appeal 
they would have complained to you. I have been through five minutes of 
complaint about complaints you get at appeal.  The Committee cannot have it 
both ways.  It cannot complain people complain to you and then complain to 
me when we take an appeal and deal with it fairly. 

	Mr Godman
	138.		Can I ask, Foreign Secretary, Mr Bailey said the exporter had 
appealed to the United Nations.
	(Mr Cook)	He appealed against the refusal.  He approached the United 
Nations for the information.  There is an established procedure which allows 
an exporter to appeal a decision taken by a national Government.  It is an 
established procedure.
	139.		How many appeals have been made to the UN over the last couple 
of years?
	(Mr Cook)	It was not to the UN, it was an approach.  I think it would 
be unique.
	140.		Can Mr Bailey answer that?
	(Mr Bailey)	The exporter, as part of the appeal against the decision to 
refuse the licence, cited the fact that he believed that refurbishment was 
consistent with the UN mandate with the Western Sahara.  I need to check 
whether he approached the United Nations on that.  One would assume that 
because they came back on that point they would have queried the point with 
	(Mr Cook)	The UN did not confirm it to us.
	141.		Do you find that astonishing?
	(Mr Cook)	I cannot say I am particularly pleased with what happened 
with this case to be perfectly honest with you.

	Mr O'Neill
	142.		Can I get it clear in my mind.  You said that because the UN 
said that you did not have grounds for refusal of the appeal ---
	(Mr Cook)	I am not asserting they said anything as crude as that in 
terms of the actual case, but they did say that they had no objection that 
the mission on the ground was supervised and it would have a neutral impact 
on the balance of forces.  Difficult grounds to refuse them on.
	143.		You could have refused it, had you wanted to.
	(Mr Cook)	The grounds on which we refused it were very severely 
undercut by that statement from the UN.  I suppose it is possible we could 
have thought up new grounds for refusal, although I think that is called 
judicial review.  As you say, on the whole applicants tend to be irritated 
by the process of an appeal and not particularly pleased with it.
	144.		At the end of the day, the prospect of a judicial review---
	(Mr Cook)	I am not saying that.
	145.		The possibility of a judicial review - you might have lost it.
	(Mr Cook)	I am not saying that, Martin.  I am not saying that the 
prospect of a judicial review was in our minds.

	Ms Kingham
	146.		You took away our ground for refusing the licence.  Our 
reasoning was, "Member States will not issue an export licence if there is 
clear risk ... against another country".  This is what happened in Western 
Sahara.  What are they going to do with it?  They are not there for the fun 
of it, are they?
	(Mr Cook)	There is a limit to the number of times I can repeat myself 
because I am wearing the patience of the Committee.  This was a case which 
we refused very much for those considerations.  Unfortunately the applicant 
put in an appeal.  The applicant prayed in aid United Nations advice.  When 
approached the United Nations confirmed that advice.  If in these 
circumstances we had not given grounds on the context of appeal there does 
not seem to be much point in allowing the appeal in any circumstances.  We 
did still maintain our refusal of the licence to export traditional guns.  
That is entirely consistent with the position taken by the UN.  Chair, I 
have to seek some protection from the Committee.  If you want to have an 
appeal process you have to recognise that sometimes we are going to lose 
them.  You cannot have an appeal process and then complain when we lose 

	Mr Baldry
	147.		Can I ask a really boring question, which is not meant to be 
disrespectful to you or your officials.  I am slightly surprised you have 16 
officials here today. That is a signal to me either ---
	(Mr Cook)	How importantly we take this Committee.
	Mr Baldry:	--- that the lines to take are a bit flakey or they are 
officials from other departments who are not confident about the lines you 
are going to take.  My boring issue is this.  How often do you and the 
Secretaries of State for Trade and Industry, International Development and 
Defence actually get together to discuss these issues collectively, or are 
lines to take on all of this done through officials and worked up through 
the departments?  To what extent is this collective ministerial decision 
taken at Cabinet sub-committee level, or to what extent is this all worked 
up by officials?  To what extent are these ministers working together or is 
this a laborious, what we see here, achievement of Government departments 
compromising and coming to some agreement?
	Chairman:	It is a very interesting question but not one for a private 

	Mr Baldry
	148.		Chairman, this only came up because it was only when we went 
into private session did we see how many officials there are.  It seems a 
perfectly valid question because until that time I thought they were all 
members of the general public!
	(Mr Cook)	If I can briefly respond.  First of all, obviously, I would 
say 95 per cent of the contact is done at official level, indeed there is 
something wrong with the policy if it does not provide a clear framework 
within which the officials can resolve 95 per cent of the issues.  Some of 
the cases will be raised with ministers and if they are raised with 
ministers in one department it will probably parallel the arrangement with 
ministers in other departments.  Most of the resolving of that will be done 
by written submission rather than oral contact, but the Secretary of State 
for Defence and the Secretary of State for Trade and I, and less frequently 
a representative of DFID, will meet and resolve major issues of contention 
and major questions of policy.  I think I can assure the Committee we have 
met and discussed your report on both occasions.

	149.		This is a private session about specific things and there is 
one left and that is the Sudan which, if we may, we will briefly raise with 
you.  The Annual Report lists IC 350, a category covering a number of 
potential precursors for chemical weapons.  Following allegations that Sudan 
had used mustard and possibly other gases in the south of the country, we 
pursued this particular inquiry and a SIEL for **** to Sudan was issued in 
April 1999.  What steps did the FCO/DTI take to check this out and make sure 
this could not be part and parcel of any potential use in chemical warfare 
in Sudan?
	(Mr Cook)	First of all, can I just say, and this is not immediately 
relevant to the particular round of applications, and I will come back to 
that, but I would say that we have no clear corroborated scientific evidence 
that there have been chemical weapons used in the Sudan, and the Sudan is of 
course party to the Chemical Weapons Convention.  To turn to the two 
applications, they were both from end-users who had bona fide industrial use 
for these chemicals, and indeed part of the difficulty of judgment in the 
case of chemicals is that they can either be precursors for chemical weapons 
or, more commonly, used for any number of scientific applications, a part of 
which quite often is agricultural fertilizer which we would want to promote.
	150.		In this case the end-users were what?  This stuff can be used 
for ****, can it not?
	(Mr Cook)	I am not briefed on who the end-users were but they were not 
weapons producers, and we were satisfied that they were bona fide uses for 
these chemicals.  If it helps the Committee, I can try and write more detail 
on who the end-users were but it would have to be in confidence.
	151.		From your investigations or inquiries into this particular 
case, you are content that this type of material did not or would not have 
gone in any possible way to be used for military purposes?
	(Mr Cook)	I am told that the licence for one of the chemicals was for 
the Nile Plant Company for the manufacture of rubbing compounds for use in 
automotive paints, so you would be looking for quite a wide diversionary 
route for it to end up in a weapons programme.
	152.		Did your officials as a matter of course check with the 
appropriate technical experts here that chemicals of this sort and this 
quantity - it was **** - would be consistent with the end-use?
	(Mr Cook)	We are advised that both the purpose stated for it is 
plausible and the volume required is consistent with the stated end-use.

	Mr Cohen
	153.		Can I briefly ask about the Congo?  I know there has been a 
tightening up of arms restrictions but I see from Oxfam in a recent briefing 
they did, "At present, there is little regulation of arms brokered to the 
region and little monitoring of the end use of arms exported.  Oxfam GB is 
calling for arms-producing nations to tighten up export procedures to ensure 
that shipments of weapons to the region do not further fuel DRC's civil 
war."  I know that is part of the British policy, are you satisfied that 
right across the EU that tightening up is there?
	(Mr Cook)	Yes, within the EU, yes, I am satisfied.  Just looking up 
the entry in the Annual Report, I see we gave nil licences for exports to 
Congo in 1999 and that is what I would expect.  We are very rigorous.  
Having said that, the big problem with the Congo - back to what I was 
talking about earlier - is of course the illicit trade in terrain and 
geography where it is extremely difficult for outsiders to monitor what 
might be happening.  There is a very significant volume of equipment going 
into the Congo but it is not going from Britain and it is not licensed by 

	154.		Thank you, Secretary of State.  It has been an exhausting and 
exhaustive session and we are grateful to you.
	(Mr Cook)	I am grateful to the Committee.
	155.		I hope the exchanges we have had prove the value of our 
Committee but also of the whole process we began two years ago.
	(Mr Cook)	I think the Committee has genuinely brought a very useful, 
added strength to the scrutiny perspective, and I think the dialogue we have 
had has also been of value to the public, and I welcome the exchange.
	Chairman:	Thank you.