BRITISH GOVERNMENT ENGAGEMENT OF
PRIVATE MILITARY AND SECURITY COMPANIES
15. We sought, as part of this inquiry, to learn
the extent to which the Government currently engages private companies
to perform military and security activities on its behalf. We
therefore asked the FCO to supply us with a memorandum detailing
"all current contracts between (1) the Foreign and Commonwealth
Office, (2) the Ministry of Defence, (3) the Department for International
Development, and (a) private military companies, (b) private security
companies for activities outside the United Kingdom." We
also requested, in respect of each contract, " (i) the name
of the company, (ii) the country in which the company is operating
under the contract, (iii) the type of work on which the company
has been engaged under the contract, (iv) approximate expenditure
from public funds on the contract in the last financial year for
which figures are available, (v) the duration of the contract
and its value over its full life."
16. The FCO was unable to supply us with this information.
They informed us that "Security guards and security management
services for many Posts are provided under contract by ... companies
that we consider to be private security companies." The reason
given for the FCO's inability to supply information about these
contracts was that they are "managed locally and details
are not held centrally."
The Department for International Development and the Ministry
of Defence also have contracts with private military and security
companies, but the records for these are also locally managed.
17. We conclude that the lack of centrally held
information on contracts between Government Departments and private
military companies is unacceptable. We recommend that the Government
take immediate steps to collect such information and to update
it regularly. We further recommend that in its response to this
Report the Government publish a comprehensive list of current
contracts between Government Departments and private military
companies and private security companies, and provides the information
requested by the Committee in the Chairman's letter of 18 June
to Denis MacShane, which is reproduced in full at page Ev. 44.