Arms sales from the UK have not been subject to independent scrutiny for more than nine months after the mysterious disappearance of the Commons watchdog on the export of weapons and military equipment.
MPs have begun to raise concerns about the fate of the committee on arms export controls – which was not re-established at the beginning of this parliament last May.
The watchdog ceased its work after its chair Sir John Stanley retired in March following 15 years at the helm.
The committee had been instrumental in embarrassing the coalition government over its decision to allow the sale of chemicals that could have been used for nerve agent weapons in Syria.
MPs and campaigners are anxious that there is scrutiny over the government’s decision to continue allowing arms exports to Saudi Arabia when there are human rights concerns about the weapons’ possible use for repression in Yemen.
Amnesty International and Saferworld say more than 100 licences for arms exports to Saudi Arabia have been issued since bombing in Yemen began in March 2015 – with a value of £1.75bn in the first half of the year.
However so far parliament has failed to set up the watchdog – made up of members of the business – foreign affairs – defence and international development committees – allowing the government to grant export licences for weapons with no independent oversight.
Crispin Blunt the Conservative chair of the foreign affairs committee, said the delays had been because of ‘bureaucratic complexity’.
But one source with knowledge of the process said the committee ‘seems dead in the water’ with little appetite to revive it.
(ed:..i know it is largely a toothless-watchdog..as in stopping britain (both labour and tory governments) from flogging arms to the vilest despots on the planet..to be used for the suppression/killing of their own people..and more/worse..
..but i guess the tories/arms-industry can’t even be bothered going through the motions anymore..)