Illegal Arms Trade

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 8th July 2003.

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Photo of Jim Cunningham Jim Cunningham Labour, Coventry South 11:30 am, 8th July 2003

What consultations he has had with ministerial colleagues regarding Europe-wide efforts to prevent the illegal arms trade.

Photo of Bill Rammell Bill Rammell Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Foreign & Commonwealth Office

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary recently discussed this issue with his counterparts in the General Affairs and External Relations Council of the European Union—a discussion that led to the adoption of the basic principles for an EU strategy against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction on 16 June 2003.

Photo of Jim Cunningham Jim Cunningham Labour, Coventry South

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. Given that he has just outlined an EU strategy, what role would Interpol play in catching arms smugglers?

Photo of Bill Rammell Bill Rammell Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Foreign & Commonwealth Office

The EU will work through this process in co-operation with Interpol. We have one of the toughest, most open and accountable export licensing regimes in the world, but it is critical that we transplant that on a multilateral basis, which is why we should engage through the EU.

Several hon. Members:

rose—

Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin Chair, The Rt Hon. the Lord Martin of Springburn Committee, Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, The Rt Hon. the Lord Martin of Springburn Committee

Order. I point out to the House that we only reached Question 10 today, and it is unfair to those who have taken the trouble to table questions that they are not being called. It would assist me in future if both questions and answers were far briefer, so that we can get further down the Order Paper.