Arms to Saudi Arabia

I share the concerns about the humanitarian situation in Yemen and I am assured that the Government is continuing its efforts to address the urgent humanitarian needs. It may be of interest that the UK is one of the largest donors in attempts to solve the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, and more than doubled its support over the last year to £85 million for 2015/16. UK aid has so far helped more than 1.3 million Yemenis.


With relation to arms sales, the UK operates one of the most rigorous and transparent export control regimes. All UK arms exports to Saudi Arabia are scrutinised in detail through established processes and against the EU and national consolidated criteria. This process takes account of all relevant information at the time of the application and is thorough.


For example, a licence will not be issued, for any country, if to do so would be inconsistent with any provision of the UK Licensing Criteria. This includes if there is a clear risk that it might be used in the commission of a serious violation of international humanitarian law.


I understand that the Government is aware of legal opinion having been provided by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) regarding Saudi Arabia. Allegations made by NGOs are investigated by the Coalition's Joint Incidents Assessment Team (JIAT). The outcomes of this investigation will be taken into account when assessing the Government's position. This, in turn, informs the risk assessment made during licensing judgements.


I am assured, having consulted with Ministers in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, that the Government is satisfied that export licences for Saudi Arabia are compliant with the UK's export licencing criteria.