Politics

Plaid MP calls for arms trade oversight

‘Government is turning blind eye’: Says Jonathan Edwards

CARMARTHENSHIRE MP and Plaid Cymru’s foreign affairs spokesperson, Jonathan Edwards, has criticised British arms exporters for avoiding UK restrictions through setting up subsidiary companies.

The Carmarthen East & Dinefwr MP has called on the UK Government to review legislation and oversight procedures governing the export of arms and security technology.

The call comes following the ruling of the High Court that UK Government arms sales to Saudi Arabia are lawful.

Jonathan Edwards has tabled an Early Day Motion (EDM) criticising BAE Systems’ sales of surveillance technology and decryption software to several Gulf and North African states and expressing concern over arms manufacturers who are avoiding UK restrictions on arms exports through subsidiary companies.

Mr Edwards says that BAE Systems’ sales of decryption technologies arguably violates Category 5 UK arms export restrictions posing a direct threat to the national security of the UK and its allies.

Jonathan Edwards raised his concerns during an Urgent Statement in the House of Commons on the High Court ruling on arms sales on Monday July 10.

Commenting, Jonathan Edwards, said: “British companies are getting away with avoiding UK arms restrictions and selling surveillance and decryption technology to Saudi Arabia through setting up subsidiary companies overseas.

“This British-made technology is being used by Gulf and North African states to crush internal decent and potentially contravenes UK arms restrictions due to the impact it could have on national security in the UK countries and that of our allies.

“The sale of surveillance technology to governments with questionable human rights records damages the UK’s global standing and the British Government should not be turning a blind eye to British companies’ exploitation of loopholes.

“An average of 100 innocent civilians are killed in Yemen each month as a result of the actions of the Saudi-led coalition, supported by the British Government.

“The British Government must urgently review all existing legislation and the oversight procedures governing the export of arms and security technology and put an end to British companies bending the rules and profiteering from selling arms and technology to abhorrent regimes such as that of Saudi Arabia.”