2 The work of the Committees |
Relations between the Committees
and the Government
7. We are pleased to report that the relations
between the Committees and the Government have remained constructive
and cooperative. In particular, we found our exchanges with the
then Minister of State in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office,
Rt Hon Bill Rammell MP, to be helpful and frank. The then Economic
and Business Minister, Department for Business, Enterprise and
Ian Pearson MP, in response to the debate in Westminster Hall
on our last Report, thanked the Committee for its input into the
post-implementation review of the export controls introduced in
2004. "We are grateful for the input of the Committees, NGOs
and industry stakeholders. All parties were struck by the collaboration
that we managed to achieve together, and I look forward to that
We look forward to continuing this constructive relationship with
the successors of both Ministers, and to seeing more evidence
that the Government has seriously considered our recommendations.
Export Control Organisation Reports
and Statistics Website
8. We were pleased to receive an advance demonstration
of the searchable database located on a new website launched on
8 June by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.
Staff from the Export Control Organisation demonstrated to us
the statistics and reports that it is now possible for the public
to access (registration is necessary), which can be tailored to
particular areas of interest. We warmly welcome the launch of
the new website as an important step towards greater transparency
of arms exports licences granted and refused. We return to this
matter in Part Five of this Report.
Review of drafts of secondary
9. Our last Report concluded that the two weeks
we were given to comment on the draft Trade in Goods (Categories
of Controlled Goods) Order was "wholly inadequate."
We recommended that, in future, the Government give interested
parties at least two months to comment on drafts of the third
tranche of secondary legislation.
At the time of our last Report, the third tranche of legislation
had not yet been finalised. We were shown parts of the draft of
the third Order, the Draft Export Control Order 2009, on 9 September
and on 24 September 2008 the Department of Business, Enterprise
and Regulatory Reform (BERR) wrote to the Committees inviting
comments on the draft Export Control Order 2009 by 24 October.
We sent our comments on the draft Export Control Order 2009 to
the Business and Enterprise Minister on 22 October, and this is
attached as Annex 1.
10. Alongside our comments on the draft Order,
we also expressed our concern at the inadequate time given to
us to properly scrutinise the legislation. The draft Order did
not appear in a "final" form, it did not have an Explanatory
Note or a text of the type of Explanatory Memorandum laid with
orders when they are made, and there were blank parts of schedules
which hampered our scrutiny. We requested that Orders be put in
a state which the Department would regard as fit for signature
and laying before being passed to the Committees for consideration.
We wrote to the Chairman of the Liaison Committee on 22 October
2008 to express our concern that, yet again, the Committees had
not been given adequate time to consider the draft secondary legislation.
The Chairman of the Liaison Committee wrote to Ian Pearson on
20 November who responded on 16 December. In his response, the
Minister said that he could not accept that the Committees were
unable to properly examine the draft in the time available, and
that the Government had sent the Committees drafts as soon as
had been possible.
11. We are extremely disappointed that the Government
did not accept our previous recommendation, but instead merely
committed to giving the Committees one month only to consider
the third Order.
In its Review of Export Control Legislation (2007)End
of Year Response, the Government suggested that a further
tranche of legislation might still be required after April 2009,
in which case the Committees would expect to have more time than
previously given to scrutinise the draft Order. 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.
12. The comments of the stakeholders involved
in the Review are covered in Part Three.
Evidence and witnesses
13. In the course of this inquiry, we held three
evidence sessions with: (i) the then Economic and Business Minister,
Ian Pearson MP, the Minister who then had responsibility for export
controls, and officials from BERR; (ii) the UK Working
Group on Arms (Saferworld, Amnesty UK and Oxfam GB), and the Export
Group on Aerospace and Defence (EGAD);
and (iii) the Minister of State, Rt Hon Bill Rammell MP, and officials
from the Counter Proliferation Department, Foreign and Commonwealth
14. We invited written evidence and we are grateful
to those who made submissions.
As in previous years, we sought and received replies from the
Government on a wide range of matters. We are grateful to the
Government for its replies and for keeping us informed of developments
relevant to our inquiry. We attach to this Report all the written
evidence we receivedother than material with a security
classification. Continuing the practice we adopted in previous
years we have also made available on the Internet the written
evidence we had received by May 2009, to assist those with an
interest in our inquiry. We are grateful to all those who gave
oral and written evidence and to our adviser, Dr Sibylle Bauer,
who helped us evaluate the evidence.
CLASSIFICATION OF WRITTEN EVIDENCE
15. During our evidence session with the then
Minister of State at the FCO, Rt Hon Bill Rammell MP, on 22 April
2009, we raised the issue of correspondence which had been sent
to the Committee with an apparently over-cautious restricted classification.
On two occasions we have requested, and subsequently received,
unclassified versions of letters previously sent to us on a restricted
basis by BERR. As
the information we receive is often of great interest to the public,
we requested that Ministers ensure that as much of it as possible
is submitted to us on an unclassified basis. The then Minister
agreed, and told us that it was "in nobody's interests for
items to end up on a restricted basis where, frankly, with some
minor amendments they could end up on a non-restricted basis.
I have instructed officials to view communications with your Committee
on that basis for the future."
We are grateful for this commitment from the FCO and ask that
the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills do the same.
Visit to the FCO
16. We carried out two visits in 2008-09. In
May 2009 we visited the FCO and met officials from the Counter
Proliferation Department of the FCO and Rt Hon Bill Rammell MP.
We found the discussion with officials and the Minister useful.
We put on record our thanks to those who arranged the visit and
answered our questions.
Visit to Ukraine
17. In May 2009, we made a visit to Kiev, sponsored
by the FCO. This was a return visit following a visit to Westminster
in 2007 of a delegation of Ukrainian MPs from the Committee for
National Security and Defence of the Verkhovna Rada (Supreme Council),
and local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) partners, to discuss
and compare our two systems of strategic exports control and the
parliamentary scrutiny of those two systems. In particular, we
discussed the opportunities for Ukrainian parliamentary committees
to examine further the licensing and policy decisions of the Ukrainian
government. During our visit to Ukraine we met parliamentarians,
ministers, officials and NGOs. We are extremely grateful to the
FCO for organising such an interesting and useful programme in
Ukraine. A note of the visit programme is attached at Annex 2.
18. As well as being one of the world's leading
arms exporters of newly produced weapons, Ukraine inherited a
large stockpile of weapons and ammunition from the former Soviet
Union which is a concern to the Government, NGOs and other countries.
With guidance from the EU and USA, Ukraine has put in place a
system of regulating the licensing of arms exports. Occasionally,
the Ukrainian Parliament had held hearings on specific cases of
arms exports and had invited Ministers to answer questions. Although
Commissions may be set up on an ad hoc basis to investigate suspected
abuses of the licensing system, and the Committee for National
Security and Defence in Ukraine has the scrutiny of arms exports
in its remit, there was no in depth public scrutiny of the overall
system carried out on a regular basis. The Committees were told
in Ukraine that the membership of the ad hoc Commissions consisted
of representatives of the relevant Parliamentary Committees, exporters,
legislators and the security forces. Deliberations were held in
private and only the findings of the Commission were publishednot
its full report.
19. We discussed with the Chairman of the Ukrainian
National Security and Defence Sub-committee whether strategic
exports control ought to have a higher profile within the activities
of the Sub-committee. We agreed to continue the fruitful dialogue
between our committees on this matter.
UK Brokers operating in Ukraine
20. During our meeting on Monday 18 May, the
Ukrainian Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs gave us a document
which we subsequently had translated into English.
The document contained a list of UK-registered brokers to whom
the Ukrainian State Service for Export Control had licensed the
export of collectors items (light arms) from the Soviet stockpile
of weapons. We were alarmed to see that the end users on the list
included countries for which there are FCO policy restrictions
on the export of strategic goods. The list itself did not provide
the date that the Ukrainian licence was granted, nor did it specify
the type of goods or their value. It is also not possible to
ascertain whether the goods were shipped directly from the Ukraine
to the end users, or whether the goods were shipped via the UK.
21. We were invited to visit Ukraine because
of perceived weaknesses in the parliamentary oversight of its
strategic export control system. The UK, amongst other countries,
has been greatly interested in the future of the massive stockpile
of ex-Soviet weapons since the dissolution of the USSR. Particularly,
concerns persist that Ukrainian arms might be ending up in undesirable
locations. For example, there were reports as recently as 18 June
2009 that Ukrainian arms were intercepted in Nigeria on the way
to Equatorial Guinea.
Therefore, we are extremely concerned that the UK Embassy in Kiev,
the Export Control Organisation and HM Revenue and Customs were
all unaware of the existence of this list of UK brokers who had
been granted export licences by the Ukraine State Service for
Export Control, particularly as it was provided to us freely by
the Ukrainians. We have passed the list onto the FCO, Export Control
Organisation and HM Revenue and Customs.
We are alarmed at the prospect that UK brokers might be importing
ex-Soviet weapons into the UK for onward export, and/or directly
exporting from Ukraine, to countries for which there are FCO policy
restrictions. We return to the subject of controls on UK brokers
later in this Report.
22. 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.
10 On 5 June 2009 the Department for Business, Enterprise
and Regulatory Reform (BERR) and the Department for Innovation,
Universities and Skills were replaced by the Department for Business,
Innovation and Skills (BIS). BIS continues to have responsibility
for the Export Control Organisation. Back
HC Deb, 26 Mar 2009, col 165WH Back
See www.exportcontroldb.berr.gov.uk Back
Business and Enterprise, Defence, Foreign Affairs and International
Development Committees, First Joint Report of Session 2007-08,
Scrutiny of Arms Export Controls (2008): UK Strategic Export
Controls Annual Report 2006, Quarterly Reports for 2007, licensing
policy and review of export control legislation, HC 254, para
HC (2007-08) 254, para 14 Back
Not printed. Back
Not printed. Back
Ev 41-42 Back
BERR, Export Control Act 2002, Review of Export Control Legislation
(2007)-Government's End of Year Response, December 2008, p
EGAD operates under the joint auspices of the Association of Police
& Public Security Suppliers (APPSS), the British Naval Equipment
Association (BNEA), the Defence Manufacturers Association (DMA),
the Society of British Aerospace Companies (SBAC) and the Society
of Maritime Industries (SMI). Back
"Strategic Export Controls", Committees on Arms Export
Controls press notice 01/0809, 11 December 2008 Back
For example, Ev 64 and Ev 84 were originally sent to us as restricted,
but with some minor amendments eventually were sent to us in an
unrestricted form at our request. Back
Q 209 Back
Not printed. Back
"Nigeria holds Ukraine arms plane", BBC News online,
18 June 2009, news.bbc.co.uk Back
Ev 110 Back