Al-Yamamah Arms Agreement
Opposition Day — [5th allotted day]
Vincent Cable (Shadow Chancellor, Treasury; Twickenham, Liberal Democrat)
I beg to move,
That this House
notes the Serious Fraud Office's (SFO) ongoing investigation into the sale by BAE Systems plc of a military air traffic control system to Tanzania and other arms-related inquiries;
further notes that the SFO has ceased its investigation into BAE Systems plc and Saudi Arabia;
calls for an independent inquiry into the reasons for the ending of the SFO investigation of the Saudi Arabian export sales;
requests that there be laid before this House any papers or reports held by the Comptroller and Auditor General relating to the Al Yamamah arms agreement between Her Majesty's Government and the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that have been prepared for committees of this House but not yet laid before it or published;
and reaffirms the obligations of the United Kingdom under the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions.
I think that this will be a wide-ranging debate on the whole al-Yamamah saga, but that it will focus specifically on the Government's decision to discontinue the investigation into BAE Systems last month.
The position of the Liberal Democrat party is that the Government's decision has done enormous damage, which has undermined the rule of law and Britain's reputation within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development as a country that applies international law. It has also undermined both our reputation in the developing world—where the Government, through the Chancellor and the Secretary of State for International Development in particular, lecture on corruption—and that of honest, good British companies which are trying to apply the law, whether in relation to financial services or manufacturing. It has also undermined the position of the House because of the anomalous situation in respect of the unpublished Public Accounts Committee report of 15 years ago, which, I understand, no Member present—including you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and the Chairman of the Committee—has ever read.