HC Deb 13 July 1988 vol 137 cc347-8
6. Mr. Atkinson

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he plans any new initiatives to reduce and simplify the COCOM control list.

Mr. Alan Clark

Senior officials from COCOM member countries met last January and agreed steps to streamline control lists and improve the general effectiveness of COCOM. Work on the implementation of those steps continues.

Mr. Atkinson

Is my hon. Friend aware of the dramatic increase in American high technology exports to the Soviet bloc? Does he accept, from the evidence that I recently sent him of the experience of my constituent, Mr. Andrew Kuzan, who is now in an American gaol, that United States customs officials are not adverse to setting up and entrapping British exporters of equipment that is now obsolete but which remains on the COCOM list? Will he raise that matter with his American COCOM colleagues as soon as possible?

Mr. Clark

The particular case that my hon. Friend raises is still under investigation. I agree with him that there are elements within it that seem unsatisfactory. However, as both he and the House know, because I have said this before, the Government are anxious to reduce the scope and impact of the COCOM list. We have introduced a rolling review whereby one half of the list is examined in two parts every year, and we have had some success in deleting certain items from it.

Mr. Dalyell

Which are the "unsatisfactory" elements?

Mr. Clark

One must always be on one's guard that an international agreement is not manipulated by interested parties to gain commercial advantage at the expense of other parties who are more scrupulous in their observation of it.

Mr. Hind

Does my hon. Friend agree—[HON. MEMBERS: "Reading."] I am not reading. Does my hon. Friend agree that when exporting electronic goods to the Soviet Union, and importing them from the Soviet Union into Europe, we must safeguard against dumping of such goods by the Soviet Union? One lesson to be learnt by British and European manufacturers is that they should make full use of the European Court to prevent such dumping.

Mr. Clark

There is something in what my hon. Friend says, but the question of dumping is entirely separate from strategic considerations affecting items included on the COCOM list and their export.