I have received many emails from constituents about arms exports to Saudi Arabia. I have a personal dislike of the manufacture for sale of arms, particularly to countries who have a disregard for democracy and the rule of law. As you may be aware, my Government, like successive Labour, Conservative and Coalition Governments, tends to the view that our robust export licence process provides rigour to the system. I would prefer to see all countries who manufacture and export arms come to an agreement as to which countries are in, and out, of scope. This is frustratingly unlikely to occur because the world, as viewed through Russian, American and Chinese eyes, appears more self-interested than ever. A recent trip to the Syrian border told me everything I needed to know about what happens when the superpowers fund despots and tyrants.
Despite this being my own personal view, I am a member of the party which is in Government so it is only right that I send you the Government’s view on the matter:
The Government takes its defence export responsibilities extremely seriously and operates one of the most robust export control regimes in the world. All export licence applications, including those for Saudi Arabia are rigorously assessed on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria.
These strict criteria take account of all prevailing circumstances at the time of application and includes human rights and international humanitarian law considerations. The Government does not issue export licences where there is a clear risk that the goods might be used for internal repression, in the commission of a serious violation of international humanitarian law, or where the export would provoke or prolong conflict.
I am confident that by adhering to the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria, the Government will continue to ensure that UK arms exports to Saudi Arabia are not used for internal repression, violating international humanitarian law, or for provoking or prolonging conflict.
Thanks to all who emailed me on the matter.