§ Mr. Cohen
To ask the President of the Board of Trade (1) how many licences have been granted for the export of firearms in categories ML1 and PL5018 since 6 December 1996; how many licence applications are currently under consideration; and what is his policy in respect of issuing such export licences for weapons prohibited by the Firearms (Amendment) Bill; 
(2) how many licences have been granted for the export of firearms in categories (a) ML1 and (b) PL5018 since 6 December 1996; how many such licence applications are currently under consideration; and what is his policy in respect of issuing export licences for weapons prohibited by the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997. 
§ Mr. Nelson
A total of 659 export licences covering goods in categories ML1 and PL5018 of the Export of Goods (Control) Order were issued in the period 7 December 1996 to 7 March 1997. A further 425 export licence applications covering goods rated under those headings were under consideration at close of business on 7 March 1997. In the same period there were also two new open individual export licences issued covering such goods and 25 dealer-to-dealer licences, valid for a period for three years, were issued to registered firearms dealers enabling them to trade with counterparts in EU countries.
Firearms and most military equipment require an export licence before export and all applications for such licences are considered case by case. Careful consideration is given to the political and military implications of allowing individual consignments overseas.
The Government pay particular attention to proposed exports of military goods to countries with poor human rights records, where such goods might be used for internal repression, and to countries or regions where the export of arms might contribute to destabilisation of the area. In all, eight strict criteria for allowing arms sales were agreed by Ministers at Luxembourg and Lisbon European Councils in June 1991 and June 1992.