Sale of arms to the Saudi-led coalition

13th July 2020

Andrew Mitchell seeks confirmation that DFID expertise will continue to influence export licensing decisions.

The Minister knows that I am a longstanding critic of the policies towards Yemen of the Saudi coalition, which the British Government continue to support, but it is my purpose today not to call for an arms embargo, but rather to ensure that in granting these contentious licences UK arms export licensing regime members continue to benefit from DFID’s expertise once that Department is dismantled. DFID officials sit on the export licensing Committee, and I would like the Minister’s reassurance to the House that that DFID DNA, which is very important to making these decisions in the licensing Committee, will still be available.

I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend for his long time as Secretary of State for International Development and the exceptionally good work that he did over a considerable time, when we were in opposition and in government, and particularly the strong voice that he has had in relation to the conflict.

The part of my right hon. Friend’s question about the Committees on Arms Export Controls is properly a matter for the Committee, under the chairmanship of my hon. Friend the Member for Wyre Forest (Mark Garnier). However, he has said that the International Development Committee will continue to take part in its public sessions for as long as that Committee continues in existence.

On my right hon. Friend’s other point about DFID officials, the Government are obviously very keen that DFID and international development expertise in the region continues to be recognised and utilised.