Examination of Witnesses (Questions 80
THURSDAY 21 MARCH 2002
MP, MR WILLIAM
80. I understand your concern to have rigorous
cost benefit analysis done, and yet you tell us today you were
surprised to discover that Rwanda and Burundi were also going
to be involved in what one would imagine would be overflying
charges and the like. Yet they did not seem to have been within
the scope of the exercise. I am merely asking this because it
does seem an apparent contradiction.
(Mr Straw) I do not have a photographic memory for
every page but it was mentioned they get income from other countries
but, in one sense it is not directly relevant
Mr O'Neill: It merely serves the question, the
quality of the information upon which a decision might be made.
(Mr Straw) I do not think it does with great respect.
I will wade through the file and find out. I was simply being
frank about my own state of recollection. The more important matterif
I may say so, Mr O'Neill, since I had better stick to that for
these purposesis their assessment of income from whatever
source in respect of this system, was that reasonably robust?
For those who have been more sceptical rather than cynical about
this particular export licence, the fact that they would get income
from other countries, or flights from other countries may be reassuring.
Mr George: This Committee is as indivisible
as this Government. I merely make the point that the view that
has been taken and expressed by our colleague, Tony Baldry, is
not necessarily one shared by every group of Members of the four
Committees which comprise it. I was responsible indirectly for
this document from the Tanzanian Ministry of Communications and
Transport because I was so irritated by the debate being conducted
in the mediaand I know whence that stirring camethat
I sought to get an alternative view. I would have thought anyone
of independent mind would see a democratically elected government,
knowing the arguments, knowing how poor they were, made an application
and frankly all I wish to get over to you is that it is not a
unanimous view that the Government in granting the licence
Chairman: I think it was a comment not a question.
81. Just a matter of fact. You have to consider
in this particular instance the application that is in front of
you, and clearly you did that. As a matter of fact, were you able
to consider also what alternative systems might have delivered
in terms of a different ratio of cost to benefits in order to
be able to assess the sustainability of a different system as
compared with the one that was in front of you?
(Mr Straw) Mr Lansley, this is where if you are not
careful you cease to be the British Government making decisions
based on these criteria and you start, very bluntly, acting in
a neo-colonialist imperialist way, standing in the shoes of an
82. So is the answer no?
(Mr Straw) You have to be rather careful here. ***
Donald Anderson: Buy the French system!
(Mr Straw) ***
Chairman: Foreign Secretary, thank you very
much indeed. Thank you to your colleagues. We will meet again.