HC Deb 28 November 1990 vol 181 cc865-6
20. Mr. Archer

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether, at the forthcoming conference on security and co-operation in Europe, he will propose a limitation of arms sales to the developing world.

22. Mr. Atkinson

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the outcome of the conference on security and co-operation in Europe summit in Paris on 19 to 21 November.

Mr. Douglas Hogg

Arms sales are not within the scope of the agreements endorsed at the CSCE summit in Paris on 21 November, but we maintain strict controls on all arms exports.

We welcome the adoption by the CSCE summit of the Paris charter. It expresses a universal commitment by all the CSCE states to the principles of democracy, to human rights and to economic liberty, and sets out a new structure of CSCE activity. My right hon. Friend the Member for Finchley (Mrs. Thatcher) gave the House an account of the CSCE summit in her statement to the House last week.

Mr. Archer

May I direct the hon. and learned Gentleman's mind to the question? Is not there a danger that manufacturers whose markets are shrinking in Europe and north America may be looking for new markets among developing countries? Does he agree that they will destabilise those areas where, in any event, there should be other priorities for the resources?

Mr. Hogg

The right hon. and learned Gentleman makes a perfectly fair point, but it is not best dealt with in the CSCE, not least because several of the countries with which we are most preoccupied—for example, Iraq—are not party to that process.

Mr. Atkinson

As so much of the work of the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe complements that of the CSCE, and as the Council of Europe now includes 31 out of 32 European CSCE states, should not my hon. and learned Friend look no further than the Council of Europe as the proposed new CSCE assembly of Europe, to which we could welcome the north American parliamentarians who are currently in London taking part in the North Atlantic Assembly?

Mr. Hogg

My hon. Friend is a distinguished member of the Council of Europe and I understand what he is saying. There are, however, essential differences between the proposed assembly of Europe and the Council of Europe. One important distinction is that the membership of the Council of Europe is not the same as that of the CSCE; for example, the United States is not a party to the Council of Europe. Another important distinction is that the charter of Paris is, essentially, a political agreement and doctrine rather than a legal one, whereas the agreements that underpin the Council of Europe involve strictly legal obligations.

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