I fully understand why there is much concern about the global arms trade. It should be repeatedly stressed that the Government takes UK’s arms export responsibilities very seriously, and operates one of the most rigorous arms export control regimes in the world. sure that you will join me in welcoming the fact that the Government secured the establishment of the first ever International Arms Trade Treaty to control exports. This treaty requires governments to block transfers of weapons that are deemed to pose unacceptable risks, and also to put in place measures intended to prevent weapons being sold in illegal markets. This is the first legally-binding, truly global commitment in this field, and marks significant progress.

That is not to say that there isn’t more to do, nor that governments can afford to rest on their laurels. I have written to Ministers at the Ministry of Defence to raise these concerns.

Further information which I have received on this subject is below, which I include for your perusal.

‘All export licence applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National arms export licensing Criteria, known as the consolidated Criteria. We draw on all available information, including reports from NGOs and our overseas network. Risks around human rights violations are a key part of this assessment. We do not export equipment where we assess there is a clear risk that it might be used for internal repression, that it might provoke or prolong conflict within a country, or where it may be used aggressively against another country.

‘The Government is not in breach of these international standards. Furthermore, commercial relationships do not prevent us from speaking frankly to governments about issues of concern, such as human rights. Our close political and security relationships can help enhance our scope to positively influence governments helping to promote democratic reform and raise human rights standards in places such as the Persian Gulf.’