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Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, the Government's policy on arms exports to India and Pakistan remains unchanged. There is no embargo and no suspension. However, the consolidated national and EU criteria, which apply to all export licence requests, require the Government to take full account of circumstances in the region. In respect of India and Pakistan, the Government are keeping a very close eye on developments and are applying the criteria rigorously.
Lord Redesdale: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. Does he agree that the escalation of hostilities leads to a threat of nuclear conflict, which, on the estimates given, could lead to the deaths of between 12 million and 30 million people? In that light, would the initiation by the Government of a total embargo on both countries be a strong indication of the Government's position? Will not the Government have to choose between the roles of peacemaker and arms broker?
Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, the Government's position is very clear and is known to the participants. Any action that we take has to be judged by its total impact on the situation and by its relationship to the role that we are playing in that part of the world.
Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, I think that I have made the Government's position very clear in my Answer. I again repeat that there is no embargo and no suspension. We shall examine all export licence applications from both India and Pakistan against the consolidated EU and national arms export licensing criteria. It is a very grave situation and we need to proceed very carefully. We are always in discussions with the industry on these issues, and we have been in discussions with the industry in this instance.
Baroness Williams of Crosby: My Lords, while the question of jobs is very relevant in most circumstances, we are teetering on the edge of what could be a new, nuclear war with incalculable consequences not only for South Asia but for the whole of the world. Will the Minister therefore consider again whether a clear embargo on arms exports to the two countries, imposed by a country which has considerable influence on both countries as a fellow Commonwealth member, would be appropriate and would send an appropriate signal to the two protagonistswhich will have to make up their minds in the next few days whether to allow the situation to spiral out of control?
Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, clearly the Government's main consideration is the impact of our actions on the very grave and dangerous situation in that part of the world. That is our primaryindeed our onlyconsideration. At this point, jobs are not a consideration. We are concerned about the impact on that part of the world.
Lord Campbell-Savours: My Lords, does not the public controversy now surrounding the affair only further point to the need to establish a defence exports scrutiny committeethe DESCwhich has been promoted in the other place and in this House? Indeed, it is supported by 310 elected Members of Parliament. Why cannot we now have this committee to deal with these matters?
Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, if hostilities break out between India and Pakistan, what will be the position on the provision of spares and replacements for arms already supplied to those countries?
Lord Strathclyde: My Lords, with the leave of the House, I rise to ask the noble and learned Lord the Leader of the House to give his reasons for having rejected a Private Notice Question from my noble friend Lady Blatch on the question of the Dome. For the past three days or so, the media have been full of speculation about the future of the Dome. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, is a Member of this House; as we have heard, the House of Commons is not sitting. I wonder if the noble and learned Lord the Leader of the House could give an assurance that, before we rise for the Jubilee weekend, he will ask his noble and learned friend Lord Falconer of Thoroton to come to the House to give us a Statement on the current position so that it can be fully debated and we can go away for that recess in the full knowledge of what is intended for the Greenwich peninsula.
The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Williams of Mostyn): My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, did indicate to me that he would be asking whether there would be a Statement to Parliament after the deal has been signed. No deal has been signed; negotiations continue. I think that your Lordships will agree that the time to make a Statement to the House is once the deal has been signed. The Government will indeed make a Statement to the House as soon as a deal has been signed. Lacking the gift of prophecy, I cannot say anything about this week.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, it is perfectly consistent, but I repeat myself: no deal has been signed. I repeat: the time to make a Statement is once the deal has been signed; and I repeat: we shall make a Statement when the deal has been signed.
Lord Rotherwick: My Lords, bearing in mind that we have had numerous Dome deals, none of which has come to fruition, might not this be another deal that will go by the way? In the light of that, would it not be more sensible if the noble and learned Lord we are talking about could come and suppress our worries about the wonderful Greenwich peninsula?
Lord Stoddart of Swindon: This corner then. Will the Leader of the House simply tell us whether the deal will be irrevocable once it has been signed? If it is irrevocable, what is the point of reporting to Parliament, as Parliament will not be able to do anything about the deal anyway?
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, all deals which are contractually binding are just thatcontractually binding. They can be unpicked only if the parties agree. If the parties do not agree, there are legal sanctions. The point which I would have thought is self-evident is that, if one is doing a deal, one tries to do the very best one can without disclosing all one's thoughts. I should have thought that that was commercial common sense and prudence.
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