5 Organisational and operational issues |
The date of publication of the
annual report on strategic export controls
86. In our last Report we commented on the unsatisfactory
timing of the publication of the annual reports on strategic export
controls. In essence, each year we are reporting on reports which
appear out of date as they are published in July, 18 months after
the end of the calendar year covered by the Government's Annual
Report on United Kingdom Strategic Export Controls. We recommended
that, in future, the Government publish its annual reports on
strategic export controls by the end of March of the following
calendar each year.
The Government responded that as the final annual collation of
data from across Government did not take place until April, it
would not be possible to publish the report in March. However,
it did aim to publish the 2008 report as soon a possible after
87. We are disappointed that, yet again, the
annual report on strategic export controls has not been published
in time for us to include an examination of its contents in our
annual report. We recommend
that the Government aim to publish its 2009 Annual Report on UK
Strategic Export Controls by the end of May 2010.
Form and content of annual reports
on strategic export controls
88. In our last Report we recommended that the
Government include monetary information on the management and
enforcement of export controls in future annual reports on strategic
This was because we considered the information necessary for the
scrutiny of the management and enforcement of export controls.
We need to know what resources are going into export control and
particularly whether the resources are increasing or decreasing
year on year. The Government Response said that it would "look
to include" this information in future annual reports.
Due to the late publication of the 2008 Annual Report on United
Kingdom Strategic Export Controls, after the date our Report was
finalised, we are unable to comment on whether or not this information
has been included.
Export Control Organisation Reports
and Statistics Website
89. The Government accepted our recommendations
from previous Reports that the Government bring forward a proposal
for a fully searchable and regularly updated database of all licensing
received an update from the then Minister of State for Energy
on 15 September 2008 on progress made on the development of the
which we were grateful. As previously mentioned in paragraph eight,
in May 2009 we were also grateful to receive an advance demonstration
of the Export and Control Organisation's (ECO) searchable database.
The database is located on a new website which was launched by
the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills on 8 June.
90. We were extremely impressed with the functionality
of the database which enables the public to produce reports on
licences granted and refused. We welcome that stakeholders
were involved in the trialling of the database, and that the website
was launched on time.The
UK Working Group on Arms stated that it welcomed the introduction
of a searchable database, but expressed concern that information
was seldom given regarding the approved end-user and end-use of
licensed goods: "[t]his makes it difficult for public or
parliament to assess whether the Consolidated Criteria are being
effectively and consistently applied."
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
Export Control Error
91. The then Economic and Business Minister,
Ian Pearson MP, wrote to us on 3 June to inform the Committees
that, due to an error by the Export Control Organisation (ECO),
a Chemical Weapons Convention (CVC) Schedule 2 chemical (Cetaflam
PD.P) was exported by a UK company to Taiwan and Israel. The company
had been wrongly informed that the chemical did not require an
export licence. In fact, under the CWC, chemicals listed under
Schedule 2 must not be exported to States that are not party to
the CWC. Neither Israel nor Taiwan are parties to the CWC.
92. Ian Pearson told the Committee that the control
list containing the chemical had been overlooked by staff of the
ECO and they had given the wrong advice to the company seeking
to export the chemical. However, ECO has now taken steps to ensure
that technical staff take special care in this area in future.
We note the action taken by ECO to remedy this breach of the UK's
commitments and thank the Minister for bringing it to our attention.
126 HC (2007-08) 254, para 80 Back
Cm 7485, p 14 Back
HC (2007-08) 254, para 83 Back
Cm 7485, p 14 Back
HC (2006-07) 117, para 386, Cm 7260, p 38, HC (2007-08) 254, para
85, Cm 7345, p 15 Back
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See www.exportcontroldb.berr.gov.uk Back
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