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Vince Cable questioned on licence approvals for chemicals to Syria

24 October 2013

On 9 and 11 September the Chairman of the Committees on Arms Export Controls (CAEC), Sir John Stanley, wrote to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Vince Cable, putting to the Government further questions and requirements for additional information on UK Government approval of export licences to Syria for chemicals that could be used in the production of chemical weapons.

The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills replied to the Committees on 11 October 2013. The Chairman of CAEC has now written a further letter to the Secretary of State regarding the Business Secretary’s refusal to disclose the names of the companies concerned to the Committees.

Sir John Stanley, Chairman of the Committees on Arms Export Controls, said: “The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills has provided no substantive justification for refusing to disclose to the Committees on Arms Export Controls the names of the companies to whom successive UK Governments gave licence approval between 2004 and 2012 to export to Syria dual-use chemicals that could be used to manufacture chemical weapons. The effect of the Business Secretary’s refusal to date to disclose the names of the companies is to prevent the Committees from taking evidence from them. This is a serious matter both for the 4 Select Committees who constitute the Committees on Arms Export Controls and for the House of Commons as a whole. I have therefore written to the Business Secretary asking him to reconsider his decision and to provide the Committees with the names of the companies concerned."

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