New Forest East


[The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr Bill Rammell): ... If and when the embargo is lifted, there will not be arms sales being undertaken that are not being undertaken at the moment, because the embargo has been overtaken by the code of conduct. However, because we are aware of the concerns, we are reviewing the code of conduct to ensure that it is as effective as we believe it to be. We are also looking to develop a toolbox for countries coming out of EU embargoes. Hon. Members can be absolutely clear that arms sales that are refused under the embargo at the moment would not take place in a post-embargo situation.]

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Dr Julian Lewis: I listened to the Minister's earlier answers, and particularly to the penetrating questions put from both sides of the House. If the code will not allow any more arms to be sold to China than under the existing embargo, as he asserts, what it the point of lifting that embargo, and why are the Americans so strongly opposed to our doing so?

[Mr Rammell: There is an issue over whether progress has been made since the immediate aftermath of the events in Tiananmen Square. While we continue to have significant concerns about the situation in China, there has undoubtedly been some progress on human rights since those events, as has been acknowledged by past Governments. Given that, we must ask ourselves whether it is right, through the arms embargo, to lump China into the same bloc as Burma, Sudan and Zimbabwe. That is why we are reviewing the embargo. I repeat, however, that no arms sale that has been refused until now under the embargo would, to all intents and purposes, be possible under the code of conduct. It should also be made clear that most applications for arms exports to China that have been refused in recent years have already been refused under the EU code of conduct, not under the arms embargo.]