HL Deb 25 January 2005 vol 668 cc147-8WA
Lord Avebury

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean on 17 November (WA 165 ) on compliance by southern African governments with the United Nations Secretary-General's request that they limit defence expenditure, whether they are aware that the report by the Secretary-General which was placed in the Library of the House makes no reference to this matter; and whether they will therefore seek the information requested from the Secretary-General.[HL203]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean)

The United Nations Secretary-General's recommendation in 1998 to limit defence expenditure was designed to reduce the proliferation of small arms and light weapons (SALW) in Africa. The Secretary-General's 2004 report, which was placed in the Library of the House, measures progress on this, the overall objective, and not reductions in defence expenditure.

Dialogue about government expenditure, including the level of defence spending, is a normal part of discussions between donors and partner governments. In those countries in southern Africa where the UK has significant development programmes channelled through the government, namely Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa and Lesotho, the level of defence expenditure has not been a matter of concern for the UK or other donors in recent years. The Government will therefore not be pursuing this matter with the Secretary-General.