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Lord Judd: My Lords, I am very glad that the right reverend Prelate made those remarks about what happened in Rwanda because it is a sad and ghastly story. I agree with him that we shall all be condemned in history for our failure to have faced up to it adequately. However, I want to thank the noble Lords, Lord Redesdale and Lord Razzall, for having introduced the amendment after, if I may say so, their aberration on the academic amendment which we have just debated. I believe that this amendment achieves

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the purpose which they seek and which I applaud; that is, to help my noble friend the Minister in strengthening the Bill. I do not believe that the amendment on academic freedom did anything to assist in that regard.

In arguing the case, I want to emphasise several points. First, we must recognise that there is increasing evidence that arms brokers are one of the main suppliers of weapons to conflict zones. I, for one, was glad and proud when my party—the Labour Party—said in its manifesto, exactly as the noble Lord, Lord Razzall, reminded us, that its pledge was,

    "to control the activities of arms brokers and traffickers wherever they are located".

That was the manifesto. The pledge is not reflected in this Bill.

In a recent opinion poll commissioned by the UK working group on arms, 80 per cent of those questioned agreed that the Government should honour their manifesto commitment and introduce controls on UK arms brokers, whether they operate in the UK or overseas. However, despite the fact that the Bill gives the Government the power to control UK brokers wherever they are located, they only selectively propose to take that power in the dummy orders for secondary legislation. That is a damaging loophole. UK dealers could simply cross over to Paris or Dublin to do a deal and so evade British controls. The point has been argued before but needs repeating. It is important to amend the Bill to ensure that trade controls comprehensively apply to UK dealers operating overseas.

As I recall, my noble friend argued in Committee that according to Home Office criteria extra-territorial controls are justified only to prevent arms brokers supplying weapons to countries under a UN, a European Union or a UK embargo or supplying torture equipment and long-range missiles. Matrix Chambers appears to be quoted fairly freely in our debates and appears to have been active in regard to this legislation. I have seen legal advice from Matrix Chambers that disagrees with that interpretation and says that arms brokering meets five of the six Home Office criteria, reminding us that only one has to be met for legislation to be appropriate. There are many cases where it is vital to control supplies of conventional weapons to countries that are not under an arms embargo.

Perhaps I may give a hypothetical example, which in current circumstances could all too easily be a real example. Consider the case of a UK broker who wanted to organise the transfer of fighter jets, combat helicopters and small arms to Israel, knowing that they would be used against Palestinian civilians in the West Bank. He would be unhindered by the current proposals if his activities were carried out overseas as Israel is not under an arms embargo. The Foreign Secretary confirmed on Tuesday in the other place—it was welcomed by all—that controls on direct UK exports to Israel have been strengthened as a result of the worsening situation in the Middle East and the unauthorised use by the Israeli armed forces of British tanks in the Occupied Territories. In those

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circumstances, can it be right that a British arms broker would be able to supply weapons that it now seems the Government would no longer export directly? The lack of full extra-territorial controls on arms brokers means that UK dealers will be free to undermine our own foreign policy.

The Government have also raised practical issues about enforcement. I hope that my noble friend will forgive me if I remind him that in other areas of legislation—the recent Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, the Chemical Weapons Act 1996, the Sex Offenders Act 1997 and the Landmines Act 1998—the Government have weighed up the issues and decided that the deterrent effect and the status of the United Kingdom in the international community mean that extra-territorial controls should be introduced. Surely, if it was appropriate in those circumstances, those arguments apply equally to arms brokering.

I conclude by asking specific questions of my noble friend. Does the Minister agree that it will undermine UK foreign policy if arms brokers are able to move overseas and engage in arms deals that would not be licensed directly from the UK? Does the Minister agree that extra-territorial controls would serve as a deterrent effect and prevent our driving this illegitimate, nasty and cruel trade overseas? Surely, it would reinforce our welcome new emphasis on conflict prevention and resolution in Africa if we took all possible steps to prevent British citizens supplying the weapons that often fuel the fighting.

The Earl of Sandwich: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Judd, has given me the courage to mention Israel. The need to tighten our export controls, including arms brokering, has come into sharp focus with the revelation that the Israel defence force has, all along, been in breach of undertakings that British military equipment would not be used in the Occupied Territories. Our military attaché in Israel has evidence, quoted this week by the Foreign Secretary, that British armoured personnel carriers have been used in the Occupied Territories. Perhaps we should not be surprised. Therefore, it is quite possible that Britain is unknowingly assisting the present appalling attacks on Jenin, Ramullah and Bethlehem, which have been widely condemned this week in another place.

That shows that the Bill is essential. We must have proper monitoring controls. I believe that in 2000 we sold £12.5 million worth of military equipment to Israel. Israel is also an importer of our production equipment for ammunition. Along with India, Kenya, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, it is a country known to be involved in conflict and yet continually imports from the United Kingdom.

The right reverend Prelate has said, better than I, that there are already extra-territorial controls and the noble Lord, Lord Judd, quoted the examples of controls relating to drugs, chemical weapons and sex offenders and the Landmines Act. There are clear criteria—I shall mention two—on which there is international consensus that certain conduct is

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reprehensible and that concerted action, involving the taking of extra-territorial jurisdiction, is needed. One example is the UK Government taking a leading role in the recent convention of arms brokering at the UN conference. Another point is that the vulnerability of the victim makes it particularly important to tackle offences.

That is of particular interest to aid organisations. Quite rightly, Rwanda has been mentioned by the right reverend Prelate. Arms brokering in war zones or in places where law and order is breaking down means that the victims of brokering are frequently innocent civilians. They comprise an estimated 80 per cent of all casualties in conflicts. Too often they are women and children.

The Government have given another reason for not proceeding—lack of resources. I would be grateful for clarification from the Minister. We know that the Government have announced an additional £90 million for law enforcement to tackle organised crime, including the combating of drug trafficking. Now is not the time to go into the connections, but they are clear. Trafficking in arms, drugs and humans are typically interconnected because criminals use established routes to branch out into different commodities. I gather that the likely extra costs associated with the recommendations in this amendment would be small by comparison, although one has sympathy with governments looking for extra resources in any event. For those reasons I strongly support the amendment.

7 p.m.

Lord Brennan: My Lords, I have an interest to declare as a member of Matrix chambers. I do not have the distinction of having signed the advice which was referred to a few moments ago, although I am sure that had I read it, I would have found its logic and the appropriateness of conclusions compelling.

I rise as a Back Bencher to seek reassurance from the Government. Their manifesto commitment has been mentioned and it is appropriate, as the Bill draws to its close in this House, that my noble friend the Minister should give that reassurance in three areas.

First, it has been my experience, like that of the right reverend Prelate, that the oppression which many people in various parts of the developing world suffer is caused by the use of small arms, not major weaponry. Something must be done, rather than washing our hands and saying that it is too difficult a problem to cope with. It is a permanent practical problem. How do we control small arms brokering which feeds oppressors?

Secondly, on a different but related topic, if the Bill is not to control arms brokering by UK citizens abroad, how does its purpose fit into the scheme of a world-wide campaign against terrorism? The logic that we should embrace united campaigns to trace the funds that finance terrorism and join in a coalition on every front is difficult to follow when any ordinary citizen would choose the option of stopping people getting weapons as his first objective. If such controls

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are not in this Bill, what are the Government doing to stop arms brokering activity in the fight against terrorism?

Thirdly, my last appeal for reassurance deals with controlling the self-interest of nations. I read in the information on the debate that was sent to us that the United States controls by law the brokering activities of US citizens abroad. It has no difficulty with so-called problems of extraterritoriality. I also read that neither we nor Germany have such controls. Perhaps that includes other countries of the European Union. A few months ago we were called upon to join Europe in framework decisions for a common arrest warrant, and for the campaign against terrorism to be advanced by Europe. Please may we have reassurance that the Government are pushing the European Community member states to ensure that individually they do not destroy the common wish of the whole, which is that the brokering of arms should not be supported?

In seeking that reassurance, I commend the Government on their general objectives. An ordinary person considering the Bill will ask whether it will stop people getting round arms control. Getting on an aeroplane or living abroad is getting round such controls. How will that be stopped? My questions are designed to be constructive and I await the reassurance that many of us are looking for.

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