Arms Sales: Russia

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 22nd July 2014.

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Photo of Adrian Sanders Adrian Sanders Liberal Democrat, Torbay 11:30 am, 22nd July 2014

What discussions he has had with the French Government on arms sales to Russia; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of David Lidington David Lidington The Minister for Europe

The United Kingdom has already suspended all such export licences to Russia where exports could be used against Ukraine. We have discussed the possibility of an EU-wide arms and defence exports embargo with the French Government, both bilaterally and at European Council and Council of Ministers meetings.

Photo of Adrian Sanders Adrian Sanders Liberal Democrat, Torbay

I urge the Minister to press the French and other EU countries more on that, because it really is time we all put principle ahead of short-term economic interest and stopped arming the Russian regime.

Photo of David Lidington David Lidington The Minister for Europe

The Prime Minister made the British Government’s position clear yesterday during his response to questions on his statement. It is obviously for the French Government to take that decision, which at the moment they plan to take in October this year, and to defend whatever decision they take.

Several hon. Members:

rose—

Photo of Barry Gardiner Barry Gardiner Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

The Foreign Secretary is very clear about the use of sanctions against Russia and about their potential efficacy. Why, therefore, has the Foreign Office consistently said in relation to Sri Lanka that it does not believe in applying sanctions there or in other parts of the world?

Photo of David Lidington David Lidington The Minister for Europe

Our priority in dealing with the Government of Sri Lanka has been to secure an independent investigation into the serious reports of human rights abuses in the north of that country. The Prime Minister has championed that priority and we achieved considerable success in that regard at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Speaker of the House of Commons, Speaker of the House of Commons

It was a good question; it was just the wrong one. I am afraid that my efforts have failed. Even the Clerks, in all their distinction, cannot remotely fathom the pertinence of the inquiry by Barry Gardiner to question No. 22, and I rather doubt whether the hon. Member for Torbay can either. But there we go—it is the last day, and there will be some latitude.