Scrutiny of Arms Export Controls (2011): UK Strategic Export Controls Annual Report 2009, Quarterly Reports for 2010, licensing policy and review of export control legislation - Foreign Affairs Committee Contents

1  Introduction

1. The four Committees that comprise Committees on Arms export Controls (CAEC)[2] are: Business, Innovation and Skills, Defence, Foreign Affairs and International Development. All Members of the four Committees are entitled to attend the CAEC, although for practical purposes each of the four Committees usually nominates three or four Members to receive CAEC papers and attend meetings of the CAEC.

2. Our main work throughout the year is to review Government policy on licensing arms exports, licensing decisions, and international arms control treaties. This work means that we examine the policy and licensing decisions related to military items going to sensitive destinations or end users. For example, we assess the licensing decisions that allow or refuse applications against the consolidated EU and national arms-exporting criteria and where necessary pursue individual cases: we may request further written information from Government departments or raise the issues in oral evidence with Ministers.

3. This is our first Report since the Coalition Government took office in May 2010. As in previous years, we have reviewed the Government's policy and administration on arms exports, including the performance of the Export Control Office, changes to the legislative framework, individual decisions related to licence decisions and exports to countries of concern. We have also considered the Government's arms export policy in relation to recent uprisings in North Africa and the wider Middle East and authoritarian regimes worldwide.

4. We issued our terms of reference on 11 November 2010 and in response received written evidence from the UK Working Group on Arms (UKWG)[3], the Export Group on Aerospace and Defence (EGAD), the Campaign Against Arms Trade and Transparency International. We heard evidence from two sets of witnesses in December 2010: the UK Working Group on Arms (UKWG) and the Export Group on Aerospace and Defence (EGAD). We also heard evidence from two Ministers and their respective teams in January 2011: Mr Mark Prisk MP, Minister for Business and Enterprise at the Department for Innovation and Skills (BIS) and officials from the Export Control Organisation; and Mr Alistair Burt MP, the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and FCO officials. The oral and written evidence is printed with this report. All evidence is also available on the internet. We are grateful to those who provided this evidence and to our Special Adviser, Dr Sibylle Bauer.

2   Until March 2008 the Committees were known as the "Quadripartite Committee". Back

3   UKWG is an NGO and lobby group, comprising representatives from the NGOs, Amnesty-UK, British American Security and Information Council (BASIC), Oxfam GB and Saferworld. Back

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© Parliamentary copyright 2011
Prepared 5 April 2011