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Arms Exports to China

Lord Davies of Oldham asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): The EU introduced a ban on arms sales to China on 26 June 1989, but the scope of that ban has, in the absence of agreement on a common interpretation, been left for national interpretation. The UK interprets this ban to include:

All applications are considered case by case in the light of these criteria as well as the overall criteria governing defence exports announced on 28 July 1997 by the Foreign Secretary. (Official Report, Commons, cols. 26-29)

Arms Exports to Iran

Lord Davies of Oldham asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their policy on the export of arms to Iran.[HL2106]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: There has not been any change to current policy, as set out in the Written Answer given by the Minister of State, Mr. Lloyd, to the Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Andy King MP) on 28 January 1998 (Official Report, cols. 273-274). We will not approve licences for any equipment where there is knowledge or reason to suspect that it would go to a military end-user or be used for military purposes.

However, this department has recently approved the issue by the Department of Trade and Industry of a licence for the export of industrial gas turbine parts to Iran for civil end use. This particular industrial engine has been developed from a military engine and is

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commonly used to drive pumps and electrical generators. The engine is not subject to export control when it is exported as a complete unit. However, when it is broken down into component form, a very small percentage of its parts are unchanged from their original form and, as military components, come within the scope of the UK's arms embargo and are controlled under Part III of Schedule 1 to the Export of Goods (Control) Order 1994. However, we are satisfied that Iran does not possess any aircraft powered by the original military engine, and that the risk of the component being diverted to use by the Iranian military is minimal. We have therefore approved the export.

Argentina: Arms Embargo

Lord Davies of Oldham asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether there have been any new exceptions to the arms embargo on Argentina.[HL2104]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Her Majesty's Government have recently granted two exceptions to the embargo, one in respect of the sale of two hunting rifle barrels to a private individual in Argentina, another in respect of the sale of twenty deactivated weapons to an Argentine importer. These represent exceptions but not changes to the embargo.

Hong Kong Legislature: Elections

Lord Davies of Oldham asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What assessment they have made of the Hong Kong legislative elections held on the 24 May.[HL2105]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Her Majesty's Government welcome the fact that these elections have been held. The high turnout demonstrates the determination of people in Hong Kong to play a full role in the democratic process. While we retain strong concerns about the framework for the elections, particularly the sharp reduction in the franchise for the functional constituencies, we believe that the conduct of the elections reflects well on the HKSAR Government and the independent Electoral Affairs Commission, which ensured strict adherence to the rules and fair treatment for all candidates.

These elections are a step towards a legislature elected entirely through universal suffrage. We hope that the HKSAR Government will build on this achievement and work towards early realisation of this goal.

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