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Foreign Secretary William Hague was questioned by members of the Committees on Arms Export Controls – 8 January 2014

Subject: Scrutiny of Arms Export (2014) (video)


@ 15:30:10

Sir John Stanley: It has just been reported, as you are well aware, that the OECD has just launched a major investigation into exports – from, I assume, the UK – by G4S of surveillance equipment to the Israeli security authorities for use in the Palestinian Occupied Territories. Can we be assured that the British Government are going to be co-operating fully in the OECD’s investigation?

William Hague: We work closely with the OECD on all issues, and whatever the OECD wants us to do we will of course assist with that. I don’t think there will be any problem in doing that. Again, as a general comment on this, if I can find the relevant information (said as he turns the pages of his briefing dossier), this may not be the point the OECD are looking into.  I don’t know; but there is a licence for cryptographic equipment to Israel, which involves software for building  public mobile phone networks in residential areas and for small businesses. [my question: are these for the illegal settlements?] So, sometimes what is listed as cryptographic equipment is something of that nature.

JS: I’ll just make the point that the reports yesterday were very specific: these were surveillance equipment being supplied to the Israeli security forces.

WH: Well, we will have a look and we will always work with the OECD on any issue.

@ 15:41:48

Adrian Bailey: You’ll be aware that a previous Committee report raised this issue: there are 27 countries of human rights concern,  plus a further five listed as causing concern. In your reply to a previous Committee report the Government did give reassurance that in effect all these licences were compliant. Having looked at examples of some of them: (Iran example omitted);  Israel: components for electronic warfare equipment, surface to air, surface to surface missiles, etc. That does seem slightly, well, breath-taking. Can you really say that the 3,461 extant licences as of May 2013 are compliant and comply with the government’s policy not to issue licences where they judge there is a clear risk that the proposed export might provoke or prolong regional or internal conflict, or which may be used to facilitate internal repression?

WH: Well, all licences will have been assessed against that criteria. Yes, absolutely. And as you know we have the power to revoke licences if we think that those criteria are no longer met. And we do sometimes revoke licences.    

Commons Questions

1. Robert Halfon (in Questions to Church Commissioners): Will the minister discuss “religious intolerance with St James’ church [in relation to Bethlehem Unwrapped], which has held a shockingly anti-Israel exhibition over the past couple of weeks? Far from promoting religious tolerance, it did much to undermine it.” [Sir Tony Baldry: “The demonstration at St James’ Piccadilly was not against Judaism or Jews but against the illegal occupation under international law in the West Bank and some of the settlements. In this House, we must be careful about what is seen as religious tolerance and about not tolerating intolerance or breaches of international law.” (excerpt)]

Commons Oral Answers

2. Robert Halfon: Referring to the answer he received during Church Commissioners questions: “I should like to clarify that the anti-Israel exhibition at St. James’s church was primarily about the Israeli fence, of which 5% is wall, and which has prevented 95% of suicides. That is why I argued that it was a one-sided exhibition that would do a lot to harm religious tolerance”. [Speaker: “I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that clarification. I am sure that the House will now feel better informed.”]

Commons Points of Order

3. Debate on establishing a European-wide evacuation and resettlement programme for Syrian refugees):

–  Lord Warner: Speaking as a member of the advisory board of the Council for European Palestinian Relations he says “the Israeli Defence Minister seems to have declared the council an illicit organisation. I interpreted his declaration to mean simply that we were doing too good a job in getting European parliamentarians to see the circumstances in which Palestinians were living.” He lastly draws attention to the Palestinian refugees fleeing Syria for many years, in particular the 30,000  trapped in the Yarmouk camp.

–  Baroness Tonge: Some of those fleeing Syria today are Naqba refugees who first fled to Iraq and were displaced again by the war on Iraq; UNWRA now has to cater for 5 million Palestinians in camps all over the ME who still have no homes to go to. “I have a dream of what a wonderful force for good Israel could have been, and I think still could be, if only it dropped its exclusivity of being a Jewish state and agreed to share with others land and resources…… and by coming to some agreement on the right of return for Palestinians.”

–  Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Responding to Baroness Tonge: “We have so far given UNRWA £23.5 million to help Palestinian refugees”.

–  Baroness Tonge: Could we not have some sort of scheme like the Kindertransport in WW2 to help especially the unaccompanied children?

–  Lord Taylor of Holbeach: “The noble Baroness makes a very interesting suggestion and I thank her very much for it.” [ed: This is what he actually said: “Well, the noble Baroness makes a very interesting suggestion, which I will pass on, but it’s not part of the strategy that we are currently following. But I respect the way that she’s made that suggestion, and I thank her very much for it.” –

Parliament TV> @14:46:14


Lords Debate


Yasmin Qureshi: What assessment has DfID Secretary made of whether levels of food, fuel and medical supplies entering Gaza each day are adequate for the population there?

Commons Written Answers


1. Baroness Deech: What representations have HMG made to the EC in respect of the recommendation of the European Court of Auditors in Special Report 14/2013 that they undertake a major review of the Pegase programme of Direct Financial Support to the PA?

2. Baroness Deech: What assessment have HMG made of the European Court of Auditors’ recent report concerning misuse of EU funds destined for the Gazan people through the Pegase programme?

3. Baroness Deech: What steps are HMG taking to monitor the use of UK funds contributed to the EU aid programme for Palestinians?

Nos 1-3

4. Baroness Tonge: What representations have HMG made to the PA to send assistance and fuel to Gaza?

5. Baroness Tonge: What discussions have HMG had with Israel and the WHO concerning airborne weaponry used over Gaza in the last five years since and including Operation Cast Lead, in particular in respect of its effect on the reproductive health of Gazans and unborn children?

6. Baroness Tonge: What assistance are HMG sending to Gaza after recent severe flooding there?

7. Baroness Tonge: What representations have HMG made to Israel concerning reports of the opening of dams at the eastern borders of Gaza, and its impact on the flooding there?

8. Baroness Tonge: What assistance are HMG giving to Gaza in respect of power and media blackouts there?

Nos 4-8

9. Lord Hylton: What representations have HMG made, if any, to the government of France following the incident in October when a French diplomat from the Consulate in Jerusalem was man-handled by Israeli forces and prevented from handing out tents and emergency aid intended for the village of Khirbet Al-Makhul in the Jordan Valley?

10.  Baroness Tonge: Will HMG discuss with Israel the reported issue of house demolition notices to residents of Hares?

Nos 9-10

Lords Written Answers




1. Richard Burden: What effect do the restrictions on access into and out of Gaza have on the international response to the floods in Gaza?

2. Richard Burden: What contribution did Israel offer at the recent meeting with international donors and diplomats to address the current crisis in the Gaza Strip, and what contribution did it request from the international community?

3. Richard Burden: What steps is DfID taking to address the deficiencies identified by UN OCHA in the international response to the serious flooding in Gaza?

Nos 1-3

4. Andrew Smith: What representations has Foreign Secretary made to Israel on the Prawer Plan for the demolition of Bedouin homes without formal land title?

5. Jim Cunningham: Will Foreign Secretary make representations to Israel on the finding of the UN OCHA that the weekly average of structures demolished and persons displaced in the OPT has remained unaffected by the recent resumption of peace talks?

6. Jim Cunningham: What recent steps has Foreign Secretary taken to urge Israel to halt demolitions in OPTs for the duration of peace talks?

7. Jim Cunningham: Will Foreign Secretary discuss with his EU counterparts what steps EU might take to urge Israel to halt demolitions in OPTs for the duration of peace talks?

Nos 5-7

8. Julian Brazier: What assessment has HMG made of the effect of Israeli blockades of raw materials on the Gaza economy and what representations has it made to Israel regarding its blockade of Gaza?

9. Julian Brazier: What assessment has HMG made of the availability of electricity to Palestinians following the recent flooding in Gaza?

Nos 8-9

Commons Written Answers