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Arms Trade

Volume 471: debated on Friday 1 February 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information the Government collates on the activities of individual arms dealers, with particular reference to those who are reported to have (a) broken UN sanctions and (b) supplied countries where UK armed forces are operating. (183628)

The Export Control Organisation at the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform is the licensing authority for strategic exports in the UK. It sets out the regulatory framework under which licence applications are considered, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise, and Regulatory Reform takes the formal decision to issue or refuse export licences or refuse export licence applications in accordance with the appropriate legislation and announced policy. Information about arms brokers who have had their proposed export licence application either refused or revoked is shared with HM Revenue and Customs and the Revenue and Customs Prosecution Office to ensure that the decision is enforced. Where the Government receives information that an exporter has attempted to circumvent export control rules, the relevant Government departments and agencies will take action. For example, the arms broker John Knight was recently jailed for four years for breaching export controls relating to a brokered transaction between Kuwait and Iraq. This case illustrates that the legislation introduced under the Trade in Goods (Control) Order 2004 is making an impact.

The UK has one of the most rigorous and transparent export licensing regimes in the world. All licence applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis against “The Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria”. The criteria cover in detail how we assess each case. Specifically criterion 5b states: “the risk of the goods concerned being used against UK forces”. If there appears to any risk of this being the case, a licence will not be issued.