HC Deb 15 April 1991 vol 189 cc30-1W
Mr. Barry Field

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he will make a statement on the United States Treasury's announcement on 1 April concerning companies and individuals in the United Kingdom and elsewhere said to be connected with Iraq.

Mr. Lilley

On 1 April 1991 the United States Department of the Treasury published a list of 52 companies and 37 individuals worldwide whom the Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control had determined to be owned or controlled by or to be acting or purporting to act directly or indirectly on behalf of the Government of Iraq. Sanctions under United States domestic law were applied the same day to these companies and people. The effect was to make all those listed "specially designated nationals", to freeze their assets in the United States or in the hands of United States nationals or corporations outside the United States, and to make any unlicensed transaction with them a criminal offence under United States law. Thirty-three of the companies and 13 of the individuals were said to be based in the United Kingdom.

The Government had become aware early in February that the United States Treasury was preparing for eventual publication a list of companies controlled by Iraqis, including companies based in the United Kingdom. Although my Department obtained a copy of a draft list, through our embassy in Washington, the United States Treasury published the list on its own authority. I am aware that some companies have already said that their inclusion was a mistake. If any company or individual based in the United Kingdom believes that it or he has been wrongly included, my Department should be informed. It has already taken up certain cases and any company which wishes to discuss its inclusion on the list with my Department should contact my officials without delay.

The Government fully share the determination of the United States administration to enforce United Nations sanctions against Iraq, and in particular to prevent the export of arms to Iraq. We have taken the following key measures.

First, we are continuing to prevent the supply of goods to persons in Iraq, including companies controlled by Iraqi residents or Iraqi incorporated companies, or imports from Iraq in compliance with Security Council resolution 661. The legislation giving effect to the resolution applies to all persons and companies in the United Kingdom and to United Kingdom nationals and companies abroad. Compliance is carefully monitored. Very few breaches of this embargo have come to light, and these few cases are being pursued vigorously. The United States authorities have not alleged that the firms on this list have broken sanctions.

Secondly, we are continuing to maintain controls which have the effect of freezing the assets in the United Kingdom of persons and companies normally resident in Iraq on or after 4 August 1990, also in compliance with Security Council resolution 661. This embargo, too, is rigorously enforced.

Thirdly, for many years before Iraq's invasion of Kuwait exports of lethal military equipment to Iraq were prohibited by the Export of Goods (Control) Order. These controls, which apply to all persons and companies in the United Kingdom, remain in place, though they are in practice overtaken for the time being by the wider trade embargo introduced last August.