UK arms exports during 2016 Contents


1.Since 1999, four committees have been meeting together to scrutinise the government’s policies and processes relating to controls on the export1 of strategic (military and dual-use)2 items.3 These controls operate by means of licensing the export of listed types of item where certain criteria are met. The committees, when working together for this purpose, have since 2008 been collectively known as the Committees on Arms Export Controls (CAEC).

2.CAEC currently consists of the following: the Defence Committee; the Foreign Affairs Committee; the International Development Committee; and the International Trade Committee. This composition reflects the fact that the departments to which these Committees correspond are all involved in the licensing process for controlled / strategic items. All members of these four Committees are entitled to attend the meetings of CAEC and participate in proceedings. In practice, however, each of the constituent Committees usually nominates a subset of their members to attend the meetings of CAEC on their respective behalves on a routine basis.

3.Since 1999 successive governments have published United Kingdom Strategic Export Controls Annual Reports; and since 2004 these have been supplemented by the quarterly publication of statistical data, with accompanying commentary. These publications have been a particular focus for the work of CAEC (and its predecessor, the Quadripartite Committee), often being the subject of corresponding annual scrutiny reports (see Annex).

4.During the course of our inquiry we have looked primarily at the Government’s Annual Report for 2016 but have also referred to those for 2014 and 2015, as these had not been subjected to scrutiny by the previous Committees. We have taken oral evidence at five evidence sessions from 15 witnesses, including Graham Stuart, Minister for Investment at the Department for International Trade (DIT); and Sir Alan Duncan, Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). In addition, we received 11 pieces of written evidence, including a joint submission from the Department for International Development (DfID), DIT, the FCO and the Ministry of Defence (MoD). We would like to thank all of those who took the time to provide us with evidence. Members of CAEC also visited the Export Control Joint Unit (ECJU), the cross-departmental body which processes licence applications for the export of, and trade in, controlled / strategic items. We wish to place on record our gratitude to Edward Bell, the Head of the Unit, and his staff for making us welcome and giving us a valuable insight into the work that they do. Finally, we also wish to thank our Specialist Advisors: Martin Drew, consultant from British Export Control; and Professor Trevor Taylor, Research Fellow in Defence Management at the Royal United Services Institute.

1 The term “export” in this context includes not only straightforward exporting from the UK but also transfer, trade / trafficking / brokering (acquisition, disposal or movement of goods, or facilitation of such) and transit / transhipment.

2 Dual-use items have the potential for both non-military and military applications.

3 The term “items” in this context refers to goods (finished goods, systems, raw materials and components), software, technology and information / data.

Published: 18 July 2018