HL Deb 02 November 1998 vol 594 c12WA
Lord Avebury

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they consider that trade fairs on the lines of the recent COPEX 98 at Wembley are in the public interest and consistent with the Foreign Secretary's statement that the Government are "committed to preventing British companies from manufacturing, selling or procuring equipment designed primarily for torture" (HC Deb, 28 July 1997, cols. 65–66W); if not, what steps they are taking to prevent such fairs being held in the United Kingdom; whether any officials of United Kingdom Government departments or agencies, Armed Forces or police forces attended COPEX 98; and, if so, in what capacity. [HL3400]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean

COPEX and similar exhibitions which are privately arranged provide opportunities for a wide range of British companies to exhibit their goods and services to potential purchasers. Provided that these exhibitions are legitimate and that all UK laws are observed, the Government are not in a position to and do not seek to exercise any control over them. But it would be illegal to display electro-shock batons. In any case, the fact that certain equipment may be displayed at an exhibition does not mean that the Government would be prepared to licence its export.

Officials may attend, as they did for COPEX 98, in line with their department responsibilities.