Point of Order

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:30 pm on 10 September 2013.

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Photo of David Winnick David Winnick Labour, Walsall North 1:30, 10 September 2013

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. On 2 September at Defence questions, I asked the Defence Secretary about a UK firm granted a licence to sell chemicals to Syria in 2012. The licence was revoked because of tougher EU sanctions. In reply, the Defence Secretary admitted that the export licences had been granted for some industrial chemicals that could have been used in processes that might be involved in the production of poisonous gases in Syria, but stated that no such chemicals were exported because the licences were revoked.

Yesterday Sir John Stanley, who chairs the Committees on Arms Export Controls, wrote to the Business Secretary saying that the Defence Secretary’s statement in answer to my question was in direct contradiction to what the Business Secretary had written previously to the Chairman of the Committee. That letter of 10 April this year said that although the order had been revoked because of tougher EU sanctions, that could not prevent shipments of chemicals already sent to Syria.

I put it to you, Sir, that the Defence Secretary inadvertently did not give me accurate information and could inadvertently have misled the House. In those circumstances, I ask for your help so that the position can be rectified and the Defence Secretary comes to the House to explain it.