HC Deb 08 May 1989 vol 152 cc305-6W
Mrs. Dunwoody

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he intends to take any action(a) unilaterally, and (b) with his European colleagues, to halt the escalation of arms sales to the middle east in order to reduce the possibility of arms falling into unauthorised hands.

Mr. Waldegrave

All exports of British defence-related equipment are considered on a strict case-by-case basis taking account of the United Kingdom's political, strategic and security interests. Each transaction is subject to stringent export licensing procedures, including where appropriate an end-user undertaking and a no transfer clause.

These strict procedures are applied uniformly to all defence equipment exports worldwide, including the middle east. In addition, special restrictions are applied to exports to certain middle eastern countries, reflecting our wish not to fuel or prolong conflicts in the region, and our determination to take a firm line on state-sponsored terrorism.

We believe that restraint can be brought about only by wider international agreement on ways to control the escalation of arms sales and to reduce tension. In that spirit we co-sponsored a resolution adopted in the UN first committee in November 1988 calling inter alia for reinforcement of national systems of control.

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