Cluster Munitions

House of Lords written question – answered on 29th September 2008.

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Photo of Lord Elton Lord Elton Conservative

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What restrictions are in place to prevent the export of cluster munitions, as defined in the Trade in Goods (Categories of Controlled Goods) Order 2008 (SI 2008/1805), prior to that Order coming into force; and whether such restrictions are sufficient to prevent the export of those munitions.

Photo of Lord Jones of Birmingham Lord Jones of Birmingham Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform, Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (also in the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform), Minister of State (Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform) (Business and Regulatory Reform)

Cluster munitions are currently controlled under entries ML3 and ML4 of Part I of Schedule 1 to the Export of Goods, Transfer of Technology and Provision of Technical Assistance (Control) Order 2003 (“The Military List”) and therefore cannot be exported from the UK without a licence granted by the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR).

I would like to clarify the Government’s commitments in this area: at the recent Dublin conference, the UK was one of over 100 states which agreed to adopt the text of the new Convention on Cluster Munitions. That convention has yet to be ratified, but will include a ban. Until that ban is in place, any application to export cluster munitions from the UK would be rigorously assessed against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria, which cover, among other things, exports which would be used in the perpetration of human rights abuses or would exacerbate regional or internal conflicts in the destination country; and would be refused if any of these criteria were breached. As the noble Lord will be aware, the convention does however permit the transfer of cluster munitions between states party to the convention for the purposes of destruction, and for the development of and training in cluster munition and explosive submunition detection, clearance or destruction techniques; or the development of cluster munition counter measures. My understanding is, however, that no cluster munitions are produced in the UK, therefore it is unlikely that an application to export will arise in practice.

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