Session 2007-08, 11 December 2007
Publication of Report
Publication of Report
MPs SUPPORT UK/US TREATY ON DEFENCE TRADE
It is vital to the interests of both the US and the UK that our Armed Forces have access to the equipment they need to fight effectively alongside their US allies in current and future operations, says a report published today by the House of Commons Defence Committee (Third Report of Session 2007-08, UK/US Defence Trade Cooperation Treaty, HC 107).
The report supports the UK's ratification of the UK/US Defence Trade Cooperation Treaty, which establishes a new framework for arms trade and technology transfer between the USA and the UK.
The MPs say that -
The US export control system, as currently administered, is burdensome and time-consuming, discourages collaboration between UK and US industry and inhibits the swift supply of urgently needed equipment to UK Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
By removing the requirement to obtain licences for certain categories of arms and technologies, the Treaty should meet the Government's objective to deepen and strengthen UK/US defence cooperation and provide greater interoperability for UK and US Armed Forces.
But the extent of the benefits of the Treaty will depend on the Implementing Arrangements, which are still under negotiation. If the Treaty were to treat differently UK defence companies which are European-owned, or were to exclude a long list of technologies, its purpose would be undermined.
In the UK, treaties are ratified by the Government, but are laid before Parliament for 21 days before ratification to allow Parliament to scrutinise them. At the Committee's request, the Government agreed to an extension to the period for Parliamentary scrutiny for this Treaty: it ends on 12 December.
In the US, ratification of the Treaty will be subject to approval by a two-thirds majority in the Senate. The Committee says that, while Senate approval cannot be taken for granted, it is confident that Congressional scrutiny of the Treaty will show that it is as much in the US interest as it is in the interest of the UK.
Commenting on the report, Committee Chairman Rt Hon James Arbuthnot MP said:
"The Committee is fully behind the principle of this Treaty. As long as the Implementing Arrangements do not include a long list of exclusions, it should make a step-change in our defence collaboration with the US - and make a real difference to our troops on the ground. This is not just in the interest of the UK and the UK defence industry: the US defence industry is also strongly in support of this treaty and it should benefit US troops as well. We hope that our colleagues in the US Congress will agree that it is in all our interests to remove the barriers to defence cooperation. We trust that the Treaty will be ratified in both countries without delay."
NOTE FOR EDITORS:
The Committee was nominated on 13 July 2005. The Defence Committee is appointed by the House of Commons to examine the expenditure, administration, and policy of the Ministry of Defence and its associated public bodies.
The Treaty was signed by former Prime Minister Blair and President Bush in June 2007, and published on 24 September. The Treaty, and the Government's Explanatory Memorandum, can be found on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website:
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