Arms Trade: Parliamentary Scrutiny

Leader of the House written question – answered at on 19 February 2024.

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Photo of Imran Hussain Imran Hussain Labour, Bradford East

To ask the Leader of the House, if she will take steps with Cabinet colleagues to increase parliamentary scrutiny of UK strategic export controls for military goods.

Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

The government recognises the importance of effective Parliamentary scrutiny of strategic export controls and takes these matters very seriously. The UK operates one of the most transparent export licensing systems in the world, publishing quarterly and annual statistics on all of our export licensing decisions, including details of export licences granted, refused and revoked. The government is required by statute to present an Annual Report on UK Strategic Export Controls detailing the government’s approach to export licensing, including international commitments. The most recent quarterly data on strategic export controls is available on gov.uk (https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/strategic-export-controls-licensing-statistics-1-april-to-30-june-2023), as is the annual report for 2022 (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-strategic-export-controls-annual-report-2022).

As of January 2024, the Business and Trade Committee is the Parliamentary scrutiny committee with oversight of arms export controls, a role formerly carried out by the Select Committee on Arms Exports Controls (CAEC). A joint report outlining plans for future parliamentary scrutiny of strategic export controls was published by the Business and Trade, Foreign Affairs and International Development Committees on 23rd January 2024 and can be found on parliament.uk (https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/42982/documents/213812/default/).

The Government recognises the important role that the CAEC played in providing Parliamentary scrutiny of export controls and the work of the Export Control Joint Unit (ECJU). While Parliamentary scrutiny is a matter for the House, the government is committed to keeping the Business and Trade Committee updated on the work of the ECJU as it carries out its new scrutiny role. Other relevant select committees will no doubt continue to examine strategic export controls as part of their wider work, allowing a broad range of scrutiny across the House.

Hon and Rt Hon Members can also raise matters relating to the scrutiny of the UK's strategic export controls directly with the Department for Business and Trade.

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