Organisations such as Campaign Against the Arms Trade and Stop the Arms Fair and a number of individuals have expressed serious concern about the recent DSEI defence and security conference that took place In London.
I agree that all arms exports should be subject to rigorous and transparent assessment. Thanks to steps taken by the previous Labour government, the UK has some of the toughest arms export laws in the world and all export licence applications are considered on a case-by-case basis.
The legitimate defence industry can save lives, support our armed forces with world-class equipment and generate skilled UK employment. However, there need to be further important reforms to the UK’s arms export policy to ensure it is effective in controlling arms sales in a rapidly changing world. The government should, for example, urgently strengthen the enforcement of existing arms export regulations, make the risk assessment process for export licences more pre-emptive so it is more responsive to global events and enhance the oversight of the arms export system to include prior-scrutiny by Parliament.
The government has stated that all exhibitors to the DESI defence and security event had to comply with UK export control legislation. In previous years when there was evidence that a company was in breach of these regulations they were prevented from attending. This was the case, for instance, with Tianjin Myway International Trading Co. and Magforce International .
In a rapidly changing world, the government must keep the suitability of our arms export regime under constant review.