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We intend to ratify the convention, which we signed on 15 March 1985, as soon as possible. We need to check that our current legislation and other arrangements accord with its provisions. We must also consult the dependent territories, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. It is possible that new legislation will be needed.
While those negotiations continue—and everyone hopes that ratification will be completed as soon as possible—will the Government take steps to remedy the position? At present the United Kingdom is one of the few European countries that has not made the unilateral declaration against torture, called for by the United Nations more than eight years ago. Because we have not subscribed to it we appear to condone torture, which is unacceptable to most of our European partners and to countries beyond Europe.
While we are waiting for the Government to get round to signing the convention on torture, should we not do more to control the export of implements that can be used in countries where torture continues to be practised? Although the Government have already introduced some legislation in that regard, surely the House deserves more information about the method by which the Government judge the human rights records of some countries to which they allow the export of equipment that is clearly used for repression and torture.
The hon. Gentleman should recognise that we were one of the co-sponsors of the convention. We are committed to ratifying it as soon as possible, and we were one of the first countries to sign it. Regarding the specific question about instruments of torture, last year we introduced the Export of Goods (Control) Order 1985, which gives the Government power to restrict the export of instruments of torture. We would not give export licences to any destination or country for leg irons, shackles or gang chains for the restraint of prisoners.