Select Committee on Defence Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Supplementary memorandum from Saferworld

  I am writing to clarify why Saferworld believes that it is important that reference to military list (ML) ratings are re-instated in the Annual Report on Strategic Exports.

  Saferworld welcomed the publication of the Government's 2000 UK Annual Report on Strategic Exports, which was the most detailed annual report on arms exports that has been published. However, in the 2000 Report, references to military list (ML) ratings have been dropped entirely from the information on SIELs issued. This was on the basis that as dual-use items are now described, ML ratings are redundant. However, the ML ratings make a useful contribution to the "user-friendliness" of the report, as they are useful in alerting observers to certain categories of goods which may raise concerns; it can be difficult to locate such types of item in amongst the often extensive lists of summary descriptions, especially as the imprecise nature of many of the descriptions makes evaluation difficult. As such, we consider this omission as a significant backward step and would recommend that the summarising country-by-country tables of SIELs issued under each ML rating should be reinstated in the 2001 report. Furthermore, the ML-rating information available in the first three Annual Reports could be used to identify trends over time in licences issued, however through their absence from the 2000 report this opportunity has been lost. It would therefore be useful not only to reinstate this info in the 2001 report, but also to retrospectively provide it for the year 2000.

  A more transparent system of reporting would require that for each licence issued, both the ML rating and a summary description of the items for export be included, with the description precise enough to enable a judgement to be made as to whether the export meets the export guidelines. For example, whereas the description "machine gun" does meet this test, "aircraft spares" or "electronic equipment" could both include a range of equipment that could be relatively benign, or equally could be very sophisticated and of potential concern. There is a big difference between licensing exports of two-way radios and licensing advanced computer systems for weapons targeting. Generic terms defy analysis and should therefore not be used. Furthermore, future Annual Reports should use the most precise ML rating possible through the use of sub-categories. For example, the licensing of cargo parachutes would carry the rating ML10.a.2.

26 April 2002

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