Quadripartite Select Committee Written Evidence

Letter to the Chair from the Foreign Secretary

  Thank you for your letter of March 17 to the former Foreign Secretary outlining the Quadripartite Committees' thoughts on possible changes to the content and layout of the Annual Report on Strategic Export Controls. Your suggestions are very helpful. We are now considering these in more detail together with suggestions put forward by both civil society and industry. But I am confident that most of your suggestions can be delivered.

  On the format, we are exploring how to make the actual printed report focus more on the policy aspects of export controls and the various regimes. We also have in mind to provide all statistical data in an electronic form. We will of course seek to avoid a repeat of last year and ensure that both the hardcopy report and the CD are published simultaneously. We also plan to make the CD more user friendly, and to have the consolidated statistics it contains made available on the Internet at the same time.

  Altering the format and content of the report will, we hope, create a better understanding of how we approach our export control and export licensing commitments. It will also better reflect the advances we have made in the provision of better and more real-time information to both Parliament and public. We feel this is a natural development for the report. I hope that the Committee will agree that our thinking on proposed changes represents a further step in ensuring that our Annual Report on Strategic Export Controls remains a prime example of open government. I very much see this process of review and improvement as an on-going process, and would value the Committee's continued engagement on this issue. We take very seriously our responsibility towards the Committee and will continue to do our very best at serving its needs.

   I am glad that Kim Howells, who is, as you know, the Minister responsible for export control policy at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, was able to appear before the Committee on 25 April. I know that this session covered a number of important issues We shall, of course, be responding to the Committee soon on those areas where we promised additional information.

June 2006

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