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Sanctions (Libya)

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Industry – in the House of Commons at 1:49 pm on 19th March 1997.

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Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , Linlithgow 1:49 pm, 19th March 1997

To ask the President of the Board of Trade, pursuant to his answer of 19 February,Official Report column 905, if he will make it his policy to identify separately those representations from British firms relating to Libya which directly relate to UN sanctions. [19446]

Photo of Mr Anthony Nelson Mr Anthony Nelson , Chichester

A good many representations to the Department of Trade and Industry on trade with Libya relate to United Nations sanctions. However, it is not the Government's policy to publicise confidential exchanges that the Department has with individual companies.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , Linlithgow

In the St. Albans Crown court, why did Judge Colston stop an important case—Regina v. Rees and Rotheroe—and describe the Department of Trade and Industry's behaviour as an "affront to justice"? Those were the judge's words, not mine. Is this Matrix Churchill revisited?

Photo of Mr Anthony Nelson Mr Anthony Nelson , Chichester

No, it is not. I am the Minister accountable for that part of the Department, and I have looked carefully into the allegations that the hon. Gentleman has made. I am satisfied that there has been no deception and no deliberate withholding of documents required for the courts. There are sometimes genuine practical problems in tracing from thousands of files every document that may be needed. I do not deny that there are occasionally mistakes and inadequacies. We attempt to investigate and correct those, and whenever they are apparent we draw them to the attention of the public or of Parliament or, in this case, we draw them immediately to the attention of the courts. I therefore do not believe that the hon. Gentleman's allegation is well founded. Of course there are other aspects in which I know that he has taken an interest, and about which he spoke in the House this morning in connection with trade with Libya. I have noted those with care.