Select Committee on Defence Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Letter to Rt hon John Redwood MP from the Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office [deposited in the Library of the House]

  In the House on 10 June, I said in answer to Alex Salmond (col 604) that:

    "On the issue of arms sales, I may be wrong but I do not recall approving a single arms control licence in the past two months—neither does my honourable Friend the Member for Exeter, so the assumption that the honourable Gentleman makes is inaccurate."

  In answer to you (col 607) I said:

    "So far as I am aware, no applications have been blocked; they have been subject to processing in the normal way. However, I shall be happy to set the record straight for the right honourable Gentleman and for the House if my recollection is inaccurate."

  As was clear from the answers I gave to these two interventions, I was speaking from memory, not from any briefing. I have of course checked since. Both answers I gave were, as it happens, correct. But as the questions only related to very specific aspects of our arms control regime, I thought that you would find it helpful if I set out the situation in more detail. The position is:

  There is no embargo on export licences to India and Pakistan. Although I have personally not approved arms export licences to these two countries in the last two months, the FCO has continued to process applications, and DTI, as the UK licensing authority, has continued to issue licences after seeking the recommendations of their advisory departments, including FCO and MoD. Export licences for India and Pakistan will continue to be considered on a case by case basis against the Consolidated criteria, and in light of Ben Bradhsaw's PQ answer of 15 March 2002 (col 1296W), taking into account the current situation. In addition, India and Pakistan are permitted destinations on certain Open General Export Licences, copies of which are placed in the Library of the House.

  In an answer to a parliamentary question from Menzies Campbell on 13 June (col 1377W), Nigel Griffith, the DTI Minister responsible for arms export controls, published a detailed break-down of the number of export licences for India and Pakistan approved by the Government from December 2001 to the end of May 2002.

  However, the figures for the specific two-month period to which I referred to in the House, are as follows:

  Between 10 April 2002 and 7 June 2002, DTI issued 140 standard individual export licences and eight open individual export licences for India, and 15 standard individual export licences and three open individual export licences for Pakistan. These licences cover items both on the Military List and Dual-Use List.

  FCO officials have been approached by industry for further clarification about the UK's policy on arms exports to the two countries. The advice provided by my officials to industry has been entirely in line with my 10 June statement.

  I will be placing a copy of this letter in the Library of the House.

24 June 2002

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