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

2  The Government's Annual Report on Strategic Exports

5. Our annual reports are based on the Government's Annual Report on Strategic Exports and written and oral evidence. We questioned the Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Minister, Mr Mark Prisk and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Minister, Mr Alistair Burt, about an apparent downgrading in the status of the Government's Annual Report. We pointed out that the previous Government had produced more substantial reports, which had been duly presented to Parliament by the four Secretaries of State. However, the first Annual Report produced by the Coalition Government is less substantial and presented to Parliament by four junior Ministers. We asked whether these changes were indicative of a downgrading by the Coalition Government of the importance it attached to arms export controls and arms control generally. Both Ministers felt that the 2010 report was shorter than previous editions because it was concisely written rather than being less substantial than in previous years. Both Ministers were also unconcerned that the reports had not been presented to Parliament by the four Secretaries of State and suggested that it was appropriate that Ministers of State, who were closely and actively involved in the subject, with good support from their respective Secretaries of State, should sign off the reports.[4]

6. Given the key importance of the arms export control policy as demonstrated once again by recent events in North Africa and the Middle East, we recommend that the Government ensures that in future the Annual Reports on Strategic Exports be formally presented to Parliament by the respective four Secretaries of State.

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Prepared 5 April 2011