The arms trade export laws are insufficiently enforced? Uh huh. Government must plug the holes in arms exports? Okay. You’ve been barking for years and someone really, really, really needs to do something about this? Awh, how cute!
When the Quadripartite Committee barks, that Lassie-like Commons watchdog ends up with little more than a pat on the head. Poor mutts. They’ve been barking (far too?) politely on this issue for years.
Committee chairman Roger Berry : ‘In serious cases it can be very difficult to obtain evidence from abroad to put before the British courts and those cases that go to court can result in fines worth only a fraction of the goods seized. The enforcement arrangements lack a strong deterrent.’
Committee chairman Roger Berry : ‘Failure to control all arms trafficking and brokering by UK citizens means that British-sold weapons will continue to end up being used to slaughter civilians, violate basic human rights and destroy lives in conflicts across the world. Our committee urged the government to tighten up the Act. Tragically, they appear to have… brushed aside our concerns.’
Again in 2004, it censured the government over its performance in regulating arms exporters… and again it was effectively ignored.
But these are accusations of really meaty corruption. Surely Mr Berry can’t mean the kind of ethical government that commits to this? Oh no, he means the kind of duplicitous government that instead does this.
So with a strong track record of ignoring Parliament, why would government listen now?
Is your Parliamentarian sufficiently interested in this? In terms of NI representatives, I see only the names of SDLP members backing this EDM. Given that Raytheon is an employer in his constituency, I think Mark Durkan deserves praise.
But for anyone interested, and considerably frustrated with toothless Westminster committees, there’s always the campaign route.
It’s not just the return of foot-and-mouth that reminds you just how quickly the news cycle can boomerang back in your face again. It happens a lot when you factor in a cynical government-backed business model that repeatedly refuses to learn from some pretty mendacious decision-making. Sort of like a Groundhog Day that doesn’t get further than the Bill Murray suicide scenes.
Oh, and while we’re on arms, take a Russia that didn’t learn from its past and you’ve got apocalypse on a loop. Which is nice.
So what’s needed? Less polite barking and more savaging of Prime Ministerial trouser legs by committees and MPs. And perhaps even all the recommendations of Lassie’s report could be implemented by government.
If the Quadripartite Committee releases another similar report in another four years time it will represent the most dire criminal failure. The result of all this inaction is loss of life – largely its military juntas with a flexibile approach to human rights that get tooled up with British-made weapons.
Someone can take responsibility now or The Hague must make someone amenable later.
(*Hint*In both instances, I’m thinking of you Gordon.*Hint*)