Following the Government statement on the recent unlawful award of arms export licences to Saudi Arabia, Philip Dunne highlights the recent attach on Saudi Arabian oil facilities and calls on the Government to act responsibly to ensure that we stand by our allies when they come under attack..
I think everyone across the House shares my right hon. Friend’s views on the significance and the horror of the humanitarian situation in Yemen. I believe that what she has expressed to the House today is quite proper remorse and steps to ensure that the Government follow the well-established procedures for arms exports, but will she reflect on the fact that only yesterday the House was debating the impact on the kingdom of Saudi Arabia of the attack on oil facilities in that country by its neighbours across the Gulf, the Iranians? This is a very sensitive area. One of our key allies in the Gulf is under considerable pressure from the Iranian authorities, and we as a Government need to act responsibly to ensure that we stand by our allies when they come under attack.
My right hon. Friend makes an important point, but the topic of today’s question is the following of procedures in the consolidated criteria. The consolidated criteria are right; they are a good way to make sure that we issue export licences to the right parties. The problem here is specifically whether that process was followed correctly within Government and whether information was shared between Government Departments. That is the issue we have identified. I have taken immediate steps to ensure that information is properly shared when those decisions are taken, and to investigate what went wrong, but of course I take full responsibility as Secretary of State, and I have made an unreserved apology both to the Court and to Parliament.
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