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Arms Sales: Russia

Volume 584: debated on Tuesday 22 July 2014

22. What discussions he has had with the French Government on arms sales to Russia; and if he will make a statement. (905006)

The United Kingdom has already suspended all such export licences to Russia where exports could be used against Ukraine. We have discussed the possibility of an EU-wide arms and defence exports embargo with the French Government, both bilaterally and at European Council and Council of Ministers meetings.

I urge the Minister to press the French and other EU countries more on that, because it really is time we all put principle ahead of short-term economic interest and stopped arming the Russian regime.

The Prime Minister made the British Government’s position clear yesterday during his response to questions on his statement. It is obviously for the French Government to take that decision, which at the moment they plan to take in October this year, and to defend whatever decision they take.

Order. Emulation of the brevity of the hon. Member for Torbay (Mr Sanders) is now required. I call Mr Barry Gardiner.

The Foreign Secretary is very clear about the use of sanctions against Russia and about their potential efficacy. Why, therefore, has the Foreign Office consistently said in relation to Sri Lanka that it does not believe in applying sanctions there or in other parts of the world?

The French Government, arms sales, Russia; I am sure that there was some relevance to those subjects in the hon. Gentleman’s question. I am working hard to find it.

Our priority in dealing with the Government of Sri Lanka has been to secure an independent investigation into the serious reports of human rights abuses in the north of that country. The Prime Minister has championed that priority and we achieved considerable success in that regard at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

It was a good question; it was just the wrong one. I am afraid that my efforts have failed. Even the Clerks, in all their distinction, cannot remotely fathom the pertinence of the inquiry by the hon. Member for Brent North (Barry Gardiner) to question No. 22, and I rather doubt whether the hon. Member for Torbay can either. But there we go—it is the last day, and there will be some latitude.