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Arms Sales

Volume 82: debated on Monday 1 July 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will publish a table in the Official Report showing the percentage value of total arms exports sold and delivered to each African country for 1980 to 1984.

It has been the consistent policy of successive Governments not to publish detailed figures of defence sales to individual overseas customers beyond those given in volume II of the statement on the Defence Estimates.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the current level of sales by the Defence Sales Organisation regarding British arms sales to the Third world and indicate the expected rate of increase in arms deliveries for 1985 as compared with 1983 and 1984.

The Defence Sales Organisation is fundamentally concerned with supporting sales by British industry, whose export figures are given as follows. There is no generally accepted definition of the term "Third-world" countries. However, taking the 45 poorest countries in the world according to the 1985 World Bank atlas — excluding states with a population of less than 100,000 and all dependencies — the value of United Kingdom defence contracts known to us for 1983 was £842·4 million. The comparative figure for 1984 was £443·36 million; no meaningful statistics are yet available for the first half of 1985.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement outlining his policy with regard to safeguards and standards governing the supply and sale of arms to countries in the Third world.

Arms sales to any country require an export licence, and before this authority is granted a wide variety of considerations is taken into account. These considerations will vary depending on individual circumstances, but they will always include the stability of the region, the nature of the equipment to be sold, the Government of the purchasing country and their policies, the need to safeguard British dependent territories and our national security interests. These criteria are kept under review in the light of changing circumstances.