Greater regulation of the arms trade has long been a concern of ConservativeHome and it was an issue we raised with David Davis and David Cameron during last year’s leadership race.
David Cameron has today taken very welcome steps towards identifying our party with an issue of justice (arms are used by undesirable regimes against their people) and of national security (there is a record of arming regimes that later use them against us). He made these remarks on the day that Amnesty International supporters lobbied parliament in favour of "an international Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), a legal instrument that would prohibit arms transfers to destinations where they are likely to be used to commit grave human rights violations or undermine development":
“Uncontrolled arms sales help to fuel brutal and destabilising conflicts around the world. There is a profound moral imperative to ensure that the global arms trade is governed by firm, consistent and fair rules. It will take a lot of work to firm-up and secure international agreement on the details of such a Treaty. Mrs Beckett should make a start straight away, and champion the Treaty ahead of the UN General Assembly meeting this summer. Such a Treaty would be in the British national interest. The British arms industry already plays by the rules, operating to some of the highest standards in the world. An International Arms Trade Treaty would help force less scrupulous countries to raise their game, and stop selling arms to unsuitable regimes. Britain already has its house in order; it is time now for other countries to follow suit.”
Over coming months we hope the Tory leadership will go further. ConservativeHome, for example, has grave reservations about arms sales to Saudi Arabia and was disappointed that a new arms contract to the totalitarian desert kingdom was welcomed by the Conservative frontbench when it was announced last December. That debate is for another day, however… today’s intervention is a substantial step in the right direction for a party, that in 1996, was damned by Sir Richard Scott’s Arms to Iraq Report.