HL Deb 26 March 2003 vol 646 cc80-1WA
Baroness Thornton

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What changes have been made to their procedures for processing export licences for Iran.[H L2267]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean

Previous Statements to this House have indicated that all export licence applications for strategically-controlled goods to Iran are considered at a regular meeting of specialist officials, the Iran Working Group. The recommendations made have then been given ministerial consideration within each relevant department. Ministers in the relevant departments, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, have decided they no longer need routinely to consider these recommendations. The routine meeting will no longer convene to consider export licence applications.

Officials will now consider any export licence applications for Iran within their relevant government departments, meeting and submitting to Ministers only where necessary. This is in common with processing for other countries, including those of weapons of mass destruction concern.

This is a solely procedural change in order to streamline the export licensing process and to reduce delays for UK exporters. The Government will continue rigorously to assess Iran export licence applications on a case-by-case basis against the UK's national restrictions, with special attention paid to the risk of weapons of mass destruction proliferation, and against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria.