asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will publish in the Official Report the criteria applied in granting licences to exporters and importers of arms.
All relevant factors are considered before a decision is taken to grant an export licence for the sale of arms. These factors will vary depending on individual circumstances, but they will always include the stability of the region, the nature of the equipment to be sold and the Government of the purchasing country, the need to safeguard British dependent territories and our national security interests, and the Government's support for multilateral arms control. We do not permit the sale of arms to countries which pose a direct threat to the safety of Britain or our NATO allies, or to countries covered by a mandatory UN arms embargo. These criteria which are kept under review in the light of changing circumstances, were set out in greater detail in a memorandum submitted to the Foreign Affairs Committee on 24 February 1981 (72/80–81/FM).In the case of imports, the majority of arms are imported directly by the Government to meet the requirements of the British Services. In all other cases imports require an import licence, which is granted only to registered firearms dealers or to individuals who hold a firearms certificate. Before such certificates can be issued, the police have to be satisfied, inter alia, as to the applicant's suitability and his security arrangements and that no danger to public safety or to the peace exists.