Scrutiny of Arms Export Controls (2009): UK Strategic Export Controls Annual Report 2007, Quarterly Reports for 2008, licensing policy and review of export control legislation - Business and Enterprise Committee Contents

Conclusions and recommendations

Review of drafts of secondary legislation

1.  We conclude that we do not accept the comments of the then Economic and Business Minister that we had adequate opportunity to scrutinise the third tranche of secondary legislation. We therefore repeat our recommendation that, in future, the Government should ensure that interested parties have at least two months to comment on drafts of secondary legislation implementing the Government's conclusions on the outcome of its Review of Export Controls. (Paragraph 11)

Visit to Ukraine

2.  We conclude that it is of serious concern that the UK Government was unaware of the existence of a list of UK brokers granted licences by the Ukraine, We recommend that, in major arms exporting countries, such as Ukraine, the FCO should ensure that its embassies and diplomatic posts engage more effectively with the national export control organisations to obtain information on UK arms brokers licensed by overseas states. We further recommend that the Government should instigate an investigation into the list of UK brokers provided to us by the Ukrainian government and provide confirmation as soon as possible that the UK brokers on the list obtained any necessary licences from the Export Control Organisation and breached no UK legislation in the course of their business in Ukraine. We intend to return to this issue in our next Report. (Paragraph 22)

Extra-territorial controls

3.  We conclude that the Government must now take the initiative and set a deadline for NGOs and industry to bring forward draft proposals for consideration on the further extension of the trade controls on activities by UK persons anywhere in the world to cover other weapons. We recommend that Government reports back to the Committees on progress on this work by the end of October 2009. (Paragraph 36)

Anti-vehicle landmines

4.  We recommend that the Government extend Category B to include anti-vehicle land mines as a matter of priority. (Paragraph 41)

Transport and ancillary services, transit and transhipment

5.  We recommend that the Government should provide the Committees in its Response to this Report with more information, as previously requested, on the reason why it decided to exclude from the provisions of the draft Export Control Order 2009 UK sub-contractors to a UK concern that provides transport services, on what powers the Government had to seize goods in transit which did not fall within the specified categories, and how often the Government had seized goods under the then existing powers. (Paragraph 46)

6.  We also recommend that the Government should provide information in its Response to this Report on what practical steps it is taking to simplify transit across various jurisdictions and to ensure that transport providers, and parties to shipments, are aware of the relevant regulations. We further recommend that the Government should specify also in its Response whether, and how often, the list of destinations of concern would change and whether that list of destinations referred to the final destination of the shipment, or all the intermediate destinations along the route. (Paragraph 47)

Register of arms brokers

7.  We conclude that the justification remains for the need for an additional element of vetting, whether through a separate system, or by some modification of the electronic export licence processing system. We repeat our recommendation made previously that the Government establish a register of arms brokers, the need for which was further confirmed by the Committees' visit to Ukraine. (Paragraph 51)

End-use control for torture equipment

8.  We recommend that the Government should provide the Committees in its Response with an update with its progress in pursuing end-use controls on torture equipment through the EU. (Paragraph 54)


9.  We conclude that, despite the Government's view that it considers that non re-export clauses would an unnecessary burden as they would be difficult to enforce, the requirement to have a non re-export clause in contracts for the supply of controlled goods would send a clear message to both parties to the contract that re-export to certain countries is unacceptable. We recommend that the Government gives further consideration to blocking this demonstrable loophole in its arms export controls regime. (Paragraph 64)

10.  We conclude that we do not agree with the Government's decision not to enhance controls on the exports of UK controlled goods produced under licence overseas and we recommend that the Government should explain in its Response why it came to this decision and whether it will reconsider its policy. (Paragraph 65)

Military end-use controls and the "single action" clause

11.  We recommend that the Government report back to the Committees by the end of 2009 with further detail on the discussions that have taken place with industry and a timetable for introduction of its proposals for an amended EU Military End-use Control. (Paragraph 71)

End-user undertakings

12.  We recommend that the Government ensure that Integrated Project Teams in the Ministry of Defence who deal with UK exporters are fully aware of the regulations surrounding End-User Undertakings. (Paragraph 73)


13.  We repeat our recommendation that the Government take steps to demonstrate the effectiveness of the export control system through the commissioning of independent research. (Paragraph 77)

Civil penalties

14.  We conclude that the Government's decision to introduce civil penalties for strategic export control is a welcome one and we recommend that the Government inform the Committees by the end of 2009 of the timetable for primary legislation necessary to bring in civil penalties. (Paragraph 85)

Organisational and operational issues

15.  We recommend that the Government aim to publish its 2009 Annual Report on UK Strategic Export Controls by the end of May 2010. (Paragraph 87)

16.  We conclude that the new Export Control Organisation Reports and Statistics website is an important step towards greater transparency of the work of the Export Control Organisation and we commend the Government for ensuring that the website was launched on schedule. We recommend that the Government publicises more widely the facility both nationally and internationally with the aim of influencing other countries to follow the UK's example. (Paragraph 90)

Challenging bribery and corruption

17.  We conclude that the shifting of responsibility for anti-corruption from one Department to another raises questions over whether the Government has the necessary vigorous anti-corruption culture across all Departments to tackle the risk of bribery and corruption engaged in by UK-based companies and individuals. (Paragraph 97)

Adoption of the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports as a Common Position

18.  We recommend that the Government report back to the Committees by the end of 2009 on how discussions with other EU Member States have progressed towards consensus on a revised EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports to be adopted as a Common Position. (Paragraph 108)

Peer review of implementation of EU Council Regulation 1334/2000 on dual use

19.  We recommend that the Government report back to the Committees by the end of 2009 the progress made by the EU Council Working Group on the implementation of the recommendations of the review on EU Council Regulation 1334/2000. In its Response the Government should set out the necessary steps that need to be taken by the EU to implement the recommendations of the review together with the Government's strategy for achieving implementation. (Paragraph 113)

EU Arms Embargo on China

20.  We repeat our conclusion that the British Government and the EU should maintain their arms embargo on China, and that the Government should provide us in its Response with an update on its assessment of the human rights situation in China and of the adequacy of the current arms embargo in place. (Paragraph 116)

Progress towards an Arms Trade Treaty

21.  We conclude that the Government is to be commended for its continuing commitment to an international Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). We recommend that the Government continue to seek an ATT that is as strong as possible. We conclude that a successful ATT should be clearly enforceable, have as wide a scope as is achievable, and underline the applicability of international human rights and humanitarian law. We concur with the recommendation of the Foreign Affairs Committee, that if in the future, the Government is forced to choose between giving priority to the strength of the treaty or achieving the widest possible ratification, it should give priority to securing the strongest possible treaty. (Paragraph 122)

Sri Lanka

22.  We conclude that the policy of assessing licences to Sri Lanka on a case-by-case basis is, in our opinion, appropriate. However, we recommend that the Government should review all existing licences relating to Sri Lanka and provide in its Response an assessment of what implications the situation in Sri Lanka will have on how the Foreign and Commonwealth Office judges the possible future use of strategic exports by that country and the risk that the export licensing criteria might be breached. We further recommend that the Government provide in its Response an assessment of what UK supplied weapons, ammunition, parts and components were used by the Sri Lankan armed forces in the recent military actions against the Tamil Tigers. (Paragraph 126)


23.  We conclude that it is regrettable that components supplied by the UK were almost certainly used in a variety of ways by Israeli forces during the recent conflict in Gaza and that the Government should continue to do everything possible to ensure that this does not happen in future. We conclude that the Government is correct to assess the granting of licences for export on a case-by-case basis and we endorse decisions not to grant a number of licences in relation to Israel. This includes the refusal of licences to supply a variety of components for end-use by Israel since the war in Lebanon in 2006. We further conclude that the Government's review of extant licences relating to Israel is to be welcomed, as is its stated intention of assessing the need to revoke any which should be reconsidered in light of the Gaza conflict. We recommend that the Government keep us informed of the progress of the review, of whether or not the Government chooses to revoke any licences and whether the Government believes that its eventual position has implications for the UK's defence relationships with either the USA or Israel itself, or for the operational capabilities of the UK's armed forces. (Paragraph 132)

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