Baroness Judith Jolly writes…Why we need a UK register of arms brokers

I never expected to come anywhere near the top of the ballot for private members bills. My record for the Lib Dem raffle over thirty odd years is less than five or six wins. And I came third! That means I have second reading next Friday (10th June).

My bill calls for arms brokers to be registered and a fit and proper test applied to would be brokers. At present there are few restrictions so you or I could set up as a broker. In the US they are regulated.

Save the Children and Amnesty International are supporting us. Save the Children said:

Our Yemen work in Parliament has mainly focused on humanitarian access and the credible reports of breaches of international and human rights law. Whilst we recognise the positive impact that the Government’s humanitarian response and interventions have made, we remain concerned that the Government’s current support for Saudi Arabia-led military action is undermining the protection of civilians and is inconsistent with its support to the humanitarian response. We believe more robust action is needed to ensure that existing standards and norms are upheld by all parties to the conflict, in line with Government commitments under the new National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review, and to ensure full compliance by the UK with legal obligations under national and international law relating to the sale of arms.

Amnesty International added:

Irresponsible arms brokers have been implicated in the transfer of arms to conflict and human rights crisis zones around the world. Currently, UK law does not require those seeking to engage in the brokering and trafficking of conventional arms to register with national authorities, despite the fact that a register of arms brokers would be an invaluable tool enabling better enforcement of existing controls. This Bill reflects growing international commitments to enhance controls over arms brokers by establishing a registration requirement based on a ‘fit-and-proper person’ test to ensure that those with convictions for serious offences, including export control violations cannot engage in arms brokering.

We have also set up an online petition. You can sign it here.

This is a situation that is easy to resolve. The US has a register of brokers, so should we.

Second reading takes place on Friday. I have a meeting with the minister on Tuesday. A large number of signatures on the petition would be huge boost to the debate and more power to my elbow. Please share the link with your networks.

* Baroness Judith Jolly is Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party Committee on Health and Social Care.

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