HC Deb 21 April 1999 vol 329 cc552-3W
Dr. Cable

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will introduce legislation to require the publication of annual reports on strategic exports and to permit scrutiny by relevant parliamentary bodies. [81171]

Mr. Byers

The suggestion that publication of an Annual Report should be made a statutory requirement was made by Oxfam in their response to the Government's White Paper on Strategic Export Controls, published in July 1998 (cm 3989). This will be considered as part of the review of the White Paper proposals in the light of all the responses to it.

The Government's first annual report on strategic export controls was published on 25 March 1999, as noted by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in his answer of that date to my hon. Friend the Member for Erewash (Liz Blackman) Official Report, column 343. In its recent report on Strategic Export Controls (HC65), the Trade and Industry Committee noted that it had, in conjunction with other Select Committees, proposed on an experimental basis a system of joint inquiry by select committees on the first Annual Report, and that the report of that committee could be expected to make detailed proposals based on experience as to how the exercise should be managed next time around. In its response to the report (HC270) the Government welcomed this plan.