182. Our general assessment of the strategic export
control system is that it usuallyeventuallyproduces
the right results. The principles embodied in the consolidated
criteria seem to be understood and applied in a sensible way which
meets the country's interests. Unsurprisingly, some licensing
decisions are open to argument; occasionally, decisions may be
taken which turn out, with hindsight, to have been mistaken. But
most licensing decisionsincluding many which may superficially
seem suspiciousare uncontroversial and properly considered.
183. As we have discovered in the context of the
Government's recent guidelines on incorporation, the increasing
globalisation of trade in military equipment limits the extent
to which national controls on exports can be effective on their
own. This is a subject to which we will return.
184. The Government deserves praise for the transparency
that it has brought to its operation of strategic export controls
and to the policy refinements it has introduced. But a little
information can be more frustrating than none at all. There is
inevitably a tension between those who seek further openness,
and those who believe that the Government has already gone as
far as it can. We view it as one of our tasks to ensure that the
Government only withholds information from the public when it
has sound reasons for doing so. The Government should not sit
on its laurelshowever well earned these may be.