Select Committee on Defence Written Evidence

Supplementary memorandum from the Ministry of Defence

  During the evidence session last week on the US/UK Defence Trade Treaty, you asked me to consider whether the Committee could have the opportunity to scrutinise the finally agreed Implementing Arrangements (lAs) before completing your Report and making any recommendation with regard to the ratification of the Treaty. You reminded me that the Leader of the House had only granted an extension of the Ponsonby period until 12 December 2007.

  I have now considered your request, and on reflection I think it is not possible to recommend to the Leader of the House that there be any further extension.

  As was set out in our Memorandum and oral evidence, the Implementing Arrangements neither effect existing legislation nor call for new. We have set out the principles we are following in negotiating the lAs and I explained the boundaries we put on the discussions with the US, going beyond which would lead me to advise that we do not proceed to bring the Treaty into force.

  As your Committee itself emphasised, it is critical that we work hard to ensure that the Treaty is not stymied by failure by Congress to endorse the efforts of the US Administration through ratification by a vote in the Senate. I am going on the Hill myself next week to help persuade members to give the Treaty priority in their calendar. But the most significant lever will be our own Parliamentary ratification. To delay will only increase doubts in Congress and prejudice the Treaty's success.

  However I am keen that you be kept fully in the picture with regard to the progress of the negotiations on the lAs and would be very happy for you to receive an informal briefing from officials on their return from the latest negotiating session in Washington.

Rt Hon Baroness Taylor of Bolton

Minister for Defence Equipment and Support

27 November 2007

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