HL Deb 18 January 2001 vol 620 cc143-4WA
Earl Attlee

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many licences to export new warships over 500 tonnes displacement have been granted to BAE Systems, or its predecessor yards, over the last 10 years, giving details of size and type in each case. [HL275]

The Minister for Science, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)

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 (ECO). The ECO's computer databases have been searched for details of Standard Individual Export Licences (SIELs) issued between 1 January 1991 and 2 January 2001, and Open Individual Export Licences (OIELs) issued between 1 January 1994 and 2 January 2001 to BAE Systems and Marconi (Projects) Ltd, using the Military List entries ML9 and PL5033, which relate to warships. Computer records for OIELs are only available from 1 January 1994. Before then, the ECO only kept paper records of OIELs, and it would entail disproportionate cost to examine these to determine which, if any, were issued to BAE Systems or its associated companies. The search has been carried out on BAE Systems and Marconi (Projects) Ltd in the light of the recent amalgamation of British Aerospace and Marconi Electronic Systems. However, this search may not cover all BAE Systems' predecessor yards. The ECO records the details of the company applying for a licence, and is able to amend its records or reissue a licence, as appropriate, in the event of a change of name or ownership. However, ECO does not systematically maintain records of such changes in name or ownership, and it is not therefore able to search its computer records to establish the information in the form requested.

In the light of the search results, inquiries are being made under the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information. As confidential information is involved, the party concerned is being asked if it objects to its disclosure. I will write to the noble Lord in the light of the reponse, and will place a copy of that letter in the Library of the House.