Written evidence submitted by Justin Moore
- We do not know the full extent of UK arms exports because data on deliveries made under open licences is not reported.
- This limits the ability to scrutinise the impact of the UK’s arms control regime
- It is possible to provide this data - other countries do and industry does not object to it.
- The quantity and value of goods exported under open licences is not captured by the Export Control Joint Unit (ECJU). This means we do not know the full extent of UK arms exports, including to countries where the UK concerned about human rights, and hence the performance of the ECJU and the impact of the UK’s arm control regime cannot be adequately scrutinised.
- This data gap has been highlighted as a weakness in the current system by a number of parties providing evidence to the inquiry, including Professor Anna Stavrianakis (University of Sussex), Dr Sibylle Bauer (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute), Mike Lewis (Conflict Armament Research), Campaign Against the Arms Trade and Control Arms UK.
- The ECJU makes a general comment in the annual report about “continuing to improve the reliability of the data we collect about open licence use, including the development of a new digital licensing system and a new Customs Declaration System.” But they do not make a specific commitment regarding what data will be available and when.
- However, it is possible to fix this. According to Dr Bauer, a number of countries, including major exporters, such as Sweden and Spain, do provide such data. Paul Everitt, Chief Executive of ADS (the trade association for aerospace, defence space and security companies), has said that companies already provide some export information to HMRC and are happy for this to be used to show what is being exported under open licences.
- More generally, the type of data collected and presented in the annual report should be informed by what is necessary to support accountability. As the Centre for Public Data puts it, the power to not collect data is one of the most important and little-understood sources of power that states have.
- The Government’s recent Integrated Review (IR) of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy has renewed its commitment to be a ‘force for good in the world’, including defending human rights. Parliament should have the data necessary to assess how well those aims are being delivered. At present it is not able to.
- Justin Moore runs Development Monitor, an initiative to promote better data about the UK’s interactions with developing countries.
27 May 2021