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I am delighted that Wolverhampton, South-West is a multicultural and multi-faith community. It is well served by the Inter-Faith Group and by Wolverhampton Race Equality Council. As well as many Christian churches, we have four Sikh gurdwaras, five mosques, a Hindu temple, and a large Buddhist temple. Long may our communities continue to live in harmony. That harmony has come about only because of the hard work of many people from all the communities and from many spheres, who have worked hard for years. In Wolverhampton, we celebrate our diversity, because it enriches us all.
Dr. Jenny Tonge (Richmond Park): It is a great pleasure to follow the maiden speech of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Rob Marris). Although I represent Richmond Park, I was born, bred and educated in the black country and am a black country woman. The hon. Gentleman's speech was a trip down memory lane, although I am not a supporter of Wolverhampton Wanderers; I am a Baggies supporterfor me, it is West Bromwich Albion to the death. None the less, I congratulate him and welcome him to the House.
Today is a great moment for me in my time as a Member of Parliament. I am pleased to be here as we discuss this Bill, which is long awaitedindeed, I have asked for it on many occasions during my four years in Parliament. I congratulate the Government on publishing the draft Bill, which allowed time for scrutiny and for valuable comments to be made by non-governmental organisations before the final Bill was published.
I make many speeches against arms brokers and the arms industry but I am not a pacifist and I have no hang-ups about the industry, which, sadly, has to exist. It employs thousands of peoplethe United Kingdom has the second largest share of the world's defence industryand is worth $10 billion every year. Clearly, about 18.7 per cent. of the world's defence industry is not to be sneered at. All countries have legitimate defence needs and the Government have already gone some way to making the industry more transparent by introducing their annual reports, however incomprehensible they areand I at least find them incomprehensible when they are first published; it is pretty difficult to wade through them before the NGOs have had a go and have explained what all the codes mean. The Quadripartite Committee has also been introduced to scrutinise exports.
Great strides have been made in that direction, but I support my hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Dr. Cable) on the idea that we should not have export credits for arms. There seems to be no reason why the defence industry should be picked out for subsidy by the taxpayer. It cannot be right. I shall stick to my support of measures against that practice and I hope that the Government will consider the matter seriously. As I said in another debate, I realise that dropping export credits may lead to job losses, and I remember saying that we
There is still a huge need for prior scrutiny, for which issues of sustainability are the main reason. Let us consider a few brief statistics. Of the 40 poorest countries in the world, 24 are engaged in conflict or have just emerged from it, as we were told in the Department for International Development White Paper. Some 20 per cent. of the population of Africa is currently affected by war and civil war. Military expenditure in Africa in 1999 amounted to $11 billion. Interestingly, Oxfam says that universal primary education could be provided for $8 billion$3 billion less than the cost of the wars.
The Bill must take account of the consequences of arms exports for sustainable development. The draft Bill dealt with those issues, but they have been dropped in the Bill that is before us. I do not understand why the Government have dropped them. I know that the Secretary of State for International Development can issue guidance on the issues during the licensing process and can take into consideration the EU code of conduct on arms, but how much notice do the Government take of what she says? If past experience is anything to go by, the guidance will not have much impact. The Secretary of State signs only a small percentage of current export licences. She has raised objections in the past, but licences have still been granted. For example, she was not listened to in 1992 with regard to the export of arms to Ethiopia and Eritrea. She chooses not to sign the annual report on strategic export controls. I understand from a letter that I received from her Minister in April last year that it was Clare Short's decision not to sign off that annual report.
No licence has been refused under criterion 8 of the European code of conduct because it is impossible to prove that any single licence will damage development. However, what about the cumulative effect of many export licences? That has already been mentioned, and we should take it into account in prior scrutiny, before we let arms go to a developing country.
My four years in international development, two of them as a member of the Select Committee on International Development, have left me in no doubt that arms brokers and trafficking cause some of the greatest evil and suffering in the world today. In a brilliant and interesting speech, the hon. Member for Kingswood (Mr. Berry) mentioned 4 million deaths in 46 conflicts since 1990. Trafficking is such a scourge.
Mr. Gerald Howarth: The hon. Lady probably anticipates my question. She refers to conflicts around the world, which are a source of great anxiety to all hon. Members. But how will the Bill make a substantial,
Dr. Tonge: I expected the hon. Gentleman's intervention. If the claims for the secondary legislation are to be believedI hope that they arewe shall have a register of arms brokers. We can thus identify people in this country who traffic. On several occasions, the hon. Gentleman has asked about the identity of those people. The examples of Sandline and Miltec have already been cited; there could be many more. We must not assume that all Brits are honourable and would not dream of becoming arms brokers, because the opposite is true. The Bill will make a difference; a similar measure has made a difference to practices in the United States of America.
I have visited the civil war area Bahr-el-Ghazal in southern Sudan. I have seen rebel commanders, who, faced with villagers who have come to hear their words, brandish a kalashnikov and say, "This is strength. This will save you. If you follow the gun, you will be all right." That gun was supplied by an arms broker. Who are we to say that it was not a British arms broker?
Dr. Tonge: One does not have to make guns to traffic them. Surely the hon. Gentleman understands that an arms broker needs no more than a mobile phone to contact an eastern European country and get the guns to wherever they are wanted in Africa.
Colombia is racked by drugs and arms dealers; the two often go together. We spend much time, money and effort on the illicit drugs trade; why do not we spend as much on the illicit arms trade? People have been raped, tortured and mutilated for refusing to grow coca on their land. All those actions are backed by illegal arms, which are supplied through trafficking.
In Rwanda and the great lakes, the genocide is supported by the illegal arms trade. Before the hon. Member for Aldershot leaps up to tell me that genocide in Rwanda was committed with machetes, I emphasise that they were backed by men wielding guns. Guns multiply violence. Women in southern Sudan are used to Arab raiders from the north attacking their cattle and villages. In the old days, they had spears; now they have guns, and they do far more damage.
All those conflicts were backed by arms from eastern Europe. Bulgaria is currently the largest supplier, and Makarov pistols sell for £80. It was said earlier that an AK47 costs two cows in African markets; a non- governmental organisation claims that it now costs a chicken. Those weapons are getting cheaper by the minute.
European enlargement offers an opportunity to control the trade and strengthen the Bill. That also applies to the United Nations conference on small arms, which starts today in the United States. The Secretary of State for International Development will be there, but the Foreign Secretary will not. The previous Foreign SecretaryI am pleased that he has just appeared in the Chamberwas interested in the conference and intended to attend it. What an insult that neither the new Foreign Secretary nor
I was appalled to read in newspapers today that the President of the US has ordered his delegation to block the main proposals for a legally binding United Nations resolution to control the flow of small arms because he fears the gun lobby, which is led by the National Rifle Association. Until now, the US has had a good record on this issue. Perhaps the Under-Secretary will explain later what the Government intend to do about that. Are they going to continue to be a lapdog of the US, as they were on national missile defence, or are we going to join our European partners and protest?
The proposals on brokering are welcome, but I am worried about the application of controls to United Kingdom passport holders who operate overseas. Clause 2, which deals with transfer control, is almost a Gilbert and Sullivan patter-song of legal language about UK passport holders operating here, there and everywhere. Sadly, the clause does not apply to the brokers who traffic in arms. The Minister must tell us whether the secondary legislation will contain such measures. We must ensure that UK nationals, wherever they are in the world, are prevented from trafficking. It is easy for an arms broker simply to pick up a mobile phone and do a deal from beside his pool in the Bahamas.
It is sad that we shall not be debating programming. We have been told that the Committee stage will start next week and be completed by 23 October. We hoped that secondary legislation would be available for scrutiny at the same time. I am worried at the fact that only 10 days of parliamentary time has been allocated to the Committee. It is simply not enough.
A lot of persuasion is required about aspects of the Bill, but I am pleased that the Government have introduced it at last. I thank them on behalf of many women in the countries that I have visited who begged me to try to stop the flow of arms into their towns and villages. It is those women and their children who suffer most.