asked Her Majesty's Government:
What measures they are taking to ensure that British companies involved in the production of weapons overseas have to seek a specific licence from the United Kingdom Government before any such productivity is undertaken. [HL89]
Exports of all controlled (military or dual-use) items and all transfers of controlled technology from the UK require an export licence. When submitting a licence application, exporters are required to say whether the proposed export is for the purposes of overseas production, and the Government's licence assessment will then take account of the specific risks associated with this. The current controls therefore apply to many elements of the supply chain on which overseas production depends.
The Government launched a review of the current export control legislation on 18 June 2007. This included a public consultation, which examined a wide range of issues, including the controls on licensed production overseas, and specifically sought the views of respondents on a range of change options. The public consultation closed on 30 September, and all responses are currently being considered. The Government will issue an initial response to the review by 31 December.
The Government have no plans to introduce prior parliamentary scrutiny for arms exports licensing decisions, both on practical grounds and as a matter of principle. The Government continue to believe that retrospective scrutiny by the Quadripartite Select Committee of its licensing decisions, through its annual and quarterly reports on strategic export controls, is the most effective and practical method of scrutiny.