Saudi Arabia: Arms Export Licences - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 12:11 pm on 26th September 2019.

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Photo of Lord Griffiths of Burry Port Lord Griffiths of Burry Port Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport), Shadow Spokesperson (Wales) 12:11 pm, 26th September 2019

My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for repeating that Answer to the Question raised in the other place. I welcome the fact that, in the particular crisis that we are enduring, we can hear the note of contrition, recognition of having done wrong, obeisance to the rule of law and respect for it when wrong decisions have been taken. One can only hope that a wider attitude of such a nature could be evident in all parts of government at this time. It would be wrong for me to ask a question without recognising how much I welcome—and we must all welcome—that note of honesty, integrity and recognition of wrong when it happens.

Of course, it raises the question about the communication that happens between different departments of government, and that too has been addressed. We look forward to further reports as to how those things work out. There has been mention of reviews and investigations. It is therefore frustrating that we have to wait for their outcomes before we ask the really penetrating questions.

However, it would be good if the Minister could give an assurance that, as well as turning up aberrations that have occurred in the past, which we have heard about and which have not yet perhaps reached their conclusion, some attention will be given to how legitimate it is to supply Saudi Arabia, which has committed so many offences against human rights, raised so many questions in the area of appropriate behaviour and is so deeply involved in the internecine struggles in Yemen which have produced the most savage happenings and atrocities that we can imagine, even in the present day. Will some regard continue to be given to the appropriateness of supplying Saudi Arabia with arms and the monitoring that can be done to ensure that those arms are not used in ways that our Government would not want them to be used?