Written Answers: Foreign and Commonwealth
Affairs Defence Exports
Mr. Jack: To ask the Secretary of State for
Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: (1) what changes he plans to
make to the criteria governing the granting of export licences
to British companies selling defence equipment overseas; and which
countries would be precluded from receiving United Kingdom defence
equipment by these criteria;
(2) when he expects to publish his revised
criteria for the granting of export licences for sales of defence
equipment, and if he will publish precise definitions of each;
(3) which countries his Department assesses
currently use United Kingdom manufactured defence equipment for
the purposes of internal repression.
Mr. Robin Cook: We have made a firm commitment
not to permit the sale of arms to regimes that might use them
for internal repression or international aggression. To give effect
to that commitment, we have initiated an urgent review of the
detailed criteria used in considering licence applications for
the export of conventional arms. We support a strong UK defence
industry but must ensure that exports are properly regulated.
We are aware of concerns that some defence equipment exported
from the UK in the past has been used for internal repression.
The review will ensure that the risk of such misuse is fully taken
into account, alongside all other relevant factors, in the assessment
of all licence applications for the export of conventional arms.
The new criteria will be made available to the House when the
Review is complete. In the meantime, I have instructed my officials
to consult Ministers whenever there are export licence applications
which may raise concerns about human rights or international stability.
Official Report Column 135
22 May 1998