HC Deb 13 March 2000 vol 346 cc9-10W
Mr. Swayne

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what open individual export licences for export to Pakistan are being processed; and how long each application has taken. [112769]

Dr. Howells

Licences to export arms and other goods whose export is controlled for strategic reasons are issued by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry acting through DTI's Export Control Organisation. All relevant individual licence applications are circulated by the DTI to other government departments with an interest as determined by those departments in line with their policy responsibilities. These include FCO, MOD and DflD.

As of 3 March, a decision had not yet been taken on 30 applications for an Open Individual Export Licence (OIEL) to export to consignees or end-users in Pakistan of goods listed in Part III of Schedule 1 to the Export of Goods (Control) Order 19994 (commonly known as the Military List), or other goods; 28 of these applications were received before 12 October 1999, the date of the coup in Pakistan.

Policy on arms sales to Pakistan was set out in a note from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the Joint Inquiry on the Government's Annual Reports for 1997 and 1998 on Strategic Export Controls which was published in the Inquiry's report (HC225, page 74). The note stated there has been no change to the Government's policy of considering export licence applications for Pakistan on a case by case basis against the national criteria and those in the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports, and in the light of the statement made on 10 July 1998, Official Report, columns 687–88W, by my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Central (Mr. Lloyd) following the Pakistani and Indian Nuclear tests.

Applications for export licences can take some time to process, especially if the situation in the country concerned is fluid. The coup in Pakistan created many uncertainties, and, in the circumstances, it is right for the Government to take the time necessary to assess the new regime's behaviour and intentions before deciding on outstanding export licence applications.

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