Arms Sales

Oral Answers to Questions — Treasury – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25th June 1998.

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Photo of David Heath David Heath Shadow Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs) 12:00 am, 25th June 1998

Under what circumstances he would be advised by Customs and Excise officers of an intention to prosecute for breach of United Nations sanctions, or an Order in Council, on arms sales. [46153]

Photo of Dawn Primarolo Dawn Primarolo The Financial Secretary to the Treasury

Where prospective prosecutions are important and likely to attract parliamentary, public and media attention, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury is advised by customs of intention to prosecute. Such advices are copied to the Chancellor's office.

Advices to Treasury Ministers are for information only—Treasury Ministers have no role in decisions on whether to prosecute a particular case.

Photo of David Heath David Heath Shadow Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

I am most grateful to the hon. Lady for that reply. I have now discovered six Departments and their Ministers who seem to have a finger in the pie of arms control. Is it any wonder that we have such a muddled situation—why arms get into the hands of quite improper countries and destinations? Is it not time that we had a clearer, more transparent system, which provided for a committee of scrutiny in the House?

Photo of Dawn Primarolo Dawn Primarolo The Financial Secretary to the Treasury

I regret that the hon. Gentleman did not listen to my answer. Treasury Ministers have no role in decisions on whether to prosecute particular cases.