CONSERVATIVE
New Forest East

ARMS EXPORTS – 9 July 2001

Dr Julian Lewis: My right hon. Friend's [David Heathcoat-Amory's] concerns about our inability to know what will be in the secondary legislation are shared by the Saferworld organisation, which is perhaps not usually associated with our part of the political spectrum. In its briefing document, it said:

"In the absence of detailed mechanisms for putting the principles set out in the primary legislation into operation, parliamentarians, and also NGOs and the defence industry, will find it impossible to judge the overall impact of the new legislation."

* * *

Dr Lewis: I share the right hon. Gentleman's [Tom Clarke's] belief that there is not much point in restricting trafficking and brokering if weapons end up with people whom we do not believe should have them. I, too, have been following the contributions of Oxfam and other groups, and it is not clear what effective sanctions could be recommended if that result were to be outlawed. In the groups' recommendations, I have seen only the suggestion that licences could be revoked. Surely by then, however, it would be too late?

* * *

Dr Lewis: I thank the hon. Lady [Ann Clwyd], whom I much admire, for her sincerity in giving way and for that little trip down memory lane. I take issue only with her statement that arms kill. Is it not also true that, sometimes, arms prevent killing, deter killing or even stop killing?

* * *

Dr Lewis: I agree with the point that the hon. Gentleman [Elfyn Llwyd] makes. Will he share with the House his thoughts on what sort of sanctions he would recommend if such an abuse occurs? Revoking licences has been mentioned, but could penalties be imposed that would continue when the company wanted a future application to be approved?

* * *

Dr Lewis: In support of my hon. Friend [Peter Viggers], I must point that it would surely have been difficult for him to give notice of that reference because he did not know, before today, whether the right hon. Member for Livingston (Mr Cook) would be present.