HC Deb 20 May 1998 vol 312 c391W
Ann Clwyd

To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many(a) routine and (b) unannounced visits her Department's inspectors have made to British companies to verify the company's compliance with the requirements of Open Individual Export licences covering the export of military, security or police equipment since 1996; if she will provide details of action taken against companies or individuals found in contravention of the OIEL procedures; and if such information will form part of the Annual report to Parliament on arms exports. [40386]

Mrs. Roche

Officials of Export Control Organisation have made 561 routine visits to British companies holding Open Individual Export Licences covering the export of military, security, or police equipment between 1 January 1996 and 28 April 1998 to verify their compliance with licence conditions. They do not make unannounced visits.

A range of action has been taken against licence holders found to be failing to comply with such conditions, the strongest being revocation of the licence in full. Disclosure by the Government of the outcome of particular visits could reasonably be expected to harm the competitive position of the companies concerned. Therefore the information comes within the category of information 'third party's commercial confidences' which is exempt from the commitment to provide information in the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

As regards the Annual Report on Strategic Export Controls and their application specifically, I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given by the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the hon. Member for Portsmouth, South (Mr. Hancock) on 8 April 1998, Official Report, column 321.

Customs and Excise, as the Export Licensing Enforcement Agency, has the power to make unannounced visits.

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