Letter from Mrs Barbara Roche MP, Parliamentary
Under Secretary of State for Small Firms, Trade and Industry to
When I gave evidence to the Committee on 10
November, you asked for further information on two specific issues.
I am now pleased to be able to provide you with this.
During the year ending 16 October 1998, my Department's
Export Control Organisation (ECO) received 57 letters of complaint
and 37 letters of thanks in connection with the processing of
applications for standard individual export licences.
In his evidence to the Inquiry, Mr Garland,
Managing Director of RBR, referred to losing "two orders
for the United Nations, UNHCR, because of delays" in processing
Export Licence Applications (ELAs). I have assumed that he was
referring to ELA 549180 for the supply of five helmets and visors
to UNHCR in Croatia/Bosnia and ELA 532498 for the supply of 10
combat helmets to UNHCR in Afghanistan.
The circumstances surrounding the first of these
licence applications are described in the third and fourth paragraphs
of a letter from Andrew Mantle (Director of the Export Control
Organisation) to Mr Garland dated 18 September 1998. Although
this letter was included in Mr Garland's written evidence to the
Inquiry, I attach a copy for ease of reference. There is little
which I can add to this letter from which you will see that, despite
the fact that the application was initially incomplete, my officials
were still prepared to try to process the licence application
in half the normal target time (ie 10 rather than 20 working days).
While it is unfortunate that these efforts proved insufficient
to prevent the order from being cancelled, I believe that this
case actually highlights the willingness of the ECO to be as helpful
However, Mr Garland's dissatisfaction with the
way in which the other UNHCR licence application was dealt with,
is more justified. We received ELA 532498 on 14 May 1997 and circulated
it to advisory Government Departments on 19 May 1997. However
a final decision had not been taken by the time Mr Garland informed
us on 3 July 1997 that the order had been cancelled. ELAs for
the supply of goods to countries subject to an arms embargo need
very careful consideration, whoever the recipient may be. However,
clearly too long was taken in this case.
26 November 1998