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Strategic Export Controls

Volume 461: debated on Monday 18 June 2007

The Government will today—Monday 18 June 2007—launch their review of UK strategic export controls, in the form of a full public consultation.

The UK’s strategic export controls support the Government’s counter-proliferation objectives. They are based on the Export Control Act 2002 and in particular its secondary legislation, which came into effect in 2004. This legislation overhauled the UK’s export control system for the first time in over 60 years and provided the comprehensive legislative framework needed to control proliferation activity and police the arms trade effectively in today’s increasingly complex world. The changes were radical and far-reaching. That is why the Government made a public commitment to undertake a post-implementation review three years after implementation.

This review will enable the Government to revisit the UK’s strategic export controls in the light of experience, to establish whether they are having the intended effect without imposing unnecessary or disproportionate burdens on business. The Government will also need to look to the future, and so the consultation document sets out options for further change, many of which have been identified in discussions with both industry and non-Governmental organisations. Ultimately the Government’s aim is to find an effective and proportionate way to guard against the risk of undesirable exports and related activities.

The consultation document considers a wide range of options for changes to the controls, including in relation to trading in military goods conducted by UK persons overseas; the provision of ancillary services such as transportation; the production of controlled goods overseas under licence from UK companies or by UK subsidiaries; the transfer of equipment for military use in embargoed destinations; and restrictions on the export of goods that could be used for torture.

The consultation will run until 30 September 2007. Copies of the consultation document have been placed in the Library of the House. At the end of this period, the Government will carefully analyse all responses received. The Government intend to publish the initial results of that analysis by 31 December 2007.