Examination of Witnesses (Questions 40
WEDNESDAY 10 JANUARY 2001
40. Let me go back to this question of transparency.
Would it not be reassuring to the public, not just in this country
but elsewhere, if there was a recognition that the white list
should be subject to parliamentary scrutiny and that the quadripartite
committee system that we have established here, or some other
parliamentary mechanism, should be informed? Otherwise, it could
undermine the very welcome moves that we have seen in the last
few years to greater openness about EU arms sales, parliamentary
reporting, the annual report and so on, which have been brought
in by the government in the last three years. Is there not a danger
that in effect these measures could undermine that process?
(Mr Pawson) In terms of the formal licensing process,
we would envisage within the United Kingdom that the process would
be the same. The terms of the licence issued would be as a result
of consultation with other countries which may or may not happen
now but there happens to be a mechanism in the framework for doing
that. Therefore the questions of transparency and public access
would be no worse than they are now, unchanged as a result of
the Framework Agreement.
41. Will these export destination lists and
the Global Project Licences be recorded in our UK annual report
on Strategic Export Controls?
(Mr Pawson) To the extent that the UK is involved
in the Global Project Licence, yes, because that licence will
be reflected in the annual report.
42. Only in respect of UK components of it or
(Mr Pawson) I think I would like to think
about the detail of that.
43. Perhaps you would write and clarify.
(Mr Pawson) In general it would be the usual mechanism.
If it was a small component and something was not readily identifiable
we might be in a different situation from if it was a major project.
44. You see where I am going to. We are working
on the basis of countries working together and there is a common
approach and yet the common information is not made available
as a whole. What are we supposed to do, go to each country and
put the pieces of the jigsaw together and find that each country
has got different rules with regard to publicity and accountability
on the parts, yet there is an EU Code of conduct but somehow the
white list is not made public? I think we have a problem here.
I think this potentially, in terms of public perception, could
be a real problem and it may not be your intention but if it is
not handled carefully it could become a result.
(Mr Gould) I think we need to be a little bit careful
in terms of talking of white lists and so forth. What is in the
list here is that for a project which is being produced under
the general arrangements of the Framework Treaty the six countries
involved will consult on where they think the right export destinations
ought to be. That will be as much a response to where the supplying
companies think the market is as anything else. It is not really
the creation of a comprehensive, you know, write down all the
countries in the world and put them into various places on a different
list, it is a slightly different approach. I take your point about
the transparency of the process.
45. Perhaps you would write to us and clarify
(Mr Gould) I think when we have got to a point
46. I am requesting, and I have no doubt the
Chairman will back me up, for the purposes of our report to the
House we would like some more information on this.
(Mr Gould) Fine.
(Mr Pawson) I think I am right in saying that Mr Cook
is due to appear before the Quadripartite Committee, of which
this Committee is a member, on the 30th of this month. In the
Government's responses one thing we said was we expressed a willingness
to discuss a range of issues with the Committee. I see no reason
why we cannot do that.
47. I am sure we can ask Mr Cook but my questions
are to you today. I would welcome a memo of some kind to our Committee
as part of the work that we are doing.
(Mr Pawson) Explaining how this is going to work.
48. Exactly, and to clarify the points.
(Mr Pawson) On the transparency, yes.
49. Final point on this section. Let us suppose
we are in a situation where a country is getting arms exports,
there is no controversy and all the participants to this scheme
are a part of it, and then one country decides, because of an
event, an occurrence, it does not like this. We could quote Pakistan,
we could quote Zimbabwe, we could any country. How easy would
it be for the UK or any other country to stop the system and take
the country off the list?
(Mr Gould) It is dealt with in the Treaty in the default
conditions, if you like. If there is no agreement to take a country
off the list the default condition is that the country is taken
off the list, the export is stopped. That is the way it works.
50. Let us give an example. If, for example,
we were collaborating on a project on, say, armoured personnel
carriers and Pakistan is on the white list for that particular
project and something happens, a military coup and the executing
or threatening to execute the former Prime Ministerthese
are hypothetical things, they may well have happened, let us be
hypotheticalcould we subsequently stop exports to Pakistan
of that vehicle which had been approved on the list?
(Mr Gould) Yes.
51. Nobody would say that we were in breach
(Mr Gould) No, the Treaty foresees that eventuality.
52. Our partners from other countries who may
have been on the collaborative projects would not then say that
we were in breach of the Treaty and it was damaging to their jobs?
(Mr Gould) No. Well, they might say that it was damaging
to their jobs but they could not say that we were in breach of
Mr Gapes: Okay.
53. I would like to ask a question on this export
section. Mr Pawson, when we had a session with the new head of
Defence Export Services, we asked for information on whether the
MoD would publish its detailed assessment of the overall costs
and benefits of defence exports for the UK. This was called for
by ourselves in our report, on the appointment of the new Head
of Defence Export Services. We were told this information would
be available "later this year", i.e. 2000. Could you
find out for us where that request is in the pipeline, please,
and if it is nowhere in the pipeline if you could rapidly insert
(Mr Pawson) It is very much in the pipeline, Chairman.
54. It is a long time.
(Mr Pawson) It is a long time. If I may explain, it
does seem a long time. We thought it best to put this in the hands
of our economic adviser and to do it jointly with academics who
have expertise in the field, therefore working together with academics
to produce a report. It has taken rather longer than I would like
to hope it would have taken if it had just been produced by the
Ministry of Defence. I will certainly find out where it has got
55. Academics are even slower than the Ministry
(Mr Pawson) I did not want to say so explicitly.
Chairman: Fine. If we just say we are
sitting here with baited breath. Thank you so much. Mr Gapes?
56. Can I take you on to other issues related
to research and development programmes. Will the collaborative
research and development programmes which are facilitated by this
Framework Agreement be any more successful than previous European
initiatives in this area? If so, why?
(Mr Gould) I have to say I hope so because it has
not been very successful up to now, as you will have detected,
no doubt. There are, as I am sure you are aware, at least two
Memoranda of Understanding that I can recall contemporarily, and
I am sure there are lots of others, about European research and
technology. There is the EUROPA MoU from the Western European
Armaments Group, which is still not signed by all the nations,
and there is one being discussed this evening in France called
the European Technology Acquisition Programme, again some difficulty
there. The key about this Treaty is that it does two things, I
think. One is in Article 29 it says that "we shall develop
a common understanding of what technologies are needed".
That really is the key to it. The key to this is getting co-operation
in the right areas of technology and getting countries to agree.
This creates an obligation to do that. It does not guarantee that
it is done, it is part of working hard at it. The MoUs ETAP, EUROPA,
provide a mechanism for doing that. The other thing which is genuinely
novel in this Treaty is that it creates the conditions whereby
information produced by those technology programmes, which is
Government owned information, will find its way across all six
nations into proposals which European companies wish to make.
The point I am making there is that there is absolutely no point
in defence terms in doing lots of research and technology unless
you actually turn that into a defence product which can be deployed
with armed forces. This Treaty actually makes it a lot easier
to do that, it provides the legal framework which makes it easier
to do that. As I said, it does not guarantee that is going to
happen, that is a job for the six governments working together
that we need to do.
57. You are well aware, of course, in terms
of technology we are dealing with a world in which there is one
technologically dominant country.
(Mr Gould) Yes.
58. That technological dominance is reflected
also in a number of collaborative United States/British, United
(Mr Gould) Yes.
59. How do we, as a Government/country, balance
our obligations on this European collaboration on the one hand
with our close relationships both politically, strategically and
industrially with the United States?
(Mr Gould) As Europe, even if we do all the right
things that I have just described in terms of European R&T
development, we cannot produce world class defence technology
across the full range of capabilities that we require in Europe.
That has been the case for some time now and it is going to go
on being the case because there simply is not the investment taking
place in Europe to allow that to happen. This means that we will
have to continue to have access to technology developed and matured
in the US through our procurement programmes. I do not see these
things as mutually exclusive. There are some areas, and hopefully
by good co-operation in Europe we can produce a few more, where
actually we can produce world class technology but we will have
to go on having co-operative armaments procurement programmes
or, indeed, simply procuring directly from the US, from US companies
or transatlantic transnational defence companies if we are going
to fill the full range of defence capabilities we need.
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