HC Deb 06 March 1996 vol 273 cc335-6
10. Mr. Cohen

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what guidelines on the export of arms to individual countries are currently applied by his Department. [17267]

Mr. David Davis

It is our policy to support the sale of British defence equipment overseas where this is compatible with our political, strategic and security interests. We consider applications for licences to export defence equipment on a case-by-case basis in the light of established criteria, including the international guidelines and obligations to which we are committed.

Mr. Cohen

Paragraph D4.30 of the Scott report says that the former Prime Minister was inaccurate and misleading in parliamentary answers to me on the guidelines, and paragraphs D4.5, D4.6, D4.11 and D4.12, among others, refer to the untruthfulness of the then Foreign Minister. Therefore, how are Parliament and the public to know that the current guidelines are interpreted properly and have not been secretly changed, revised or flexibly interpreted? Until trust can be restored, would it not be best to have an open register, perhaps in the Library of the House of Commons, listing all the exports of weaponry or weapon-making equipment to countries that are in the guidelines?

Mr. Davis

I might surprise the hon. Gentleman. The DTI policy guidelines in such matters are under review. It will take a little time to conclude that review, but when it is concluded, I shall put a copy in the Library of the House of Commons.