The UK arms industry continues to export billions of pounds worth of weapons every year. Many of these exports go to regimes with poor human rights records, to both sides in areas of conflict or to countries with huge development needs
The arms trade is far from being a normal, legitimate business. It fuels war, undermines development and breeds corruption
In recent years, UK weapons have gone to, among other countries, Indonesia, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. Not only can equipment be used directly in repression, all arms sales legitimise these regimes and demoralise and undermine rightful and democratic opposition
Many of the UKs arms customers are situated in areas of conflict. Whilst the actual causes of any particular conflict are complex, the arms trade not only increases the likelihood of political or economic disputes breaking out into armed conflict in the first place, but also vastly increases the number of casualties once it does. Since 1997, when the Labour Government was elected, the UK has licensed arms and military equipment to 20 countries engaged in serious conflict. These countries are Algeria, Angola, Burundi, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Israel, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Uganda and Zimbabwe
Expenditure on arms by recipient countries diverts resources away from socially beneficial expenditure on areas such as education and health. Some countries with massive social needs, such as India and South Africa, are among the UKs best customers for military equipment
The UK government assists the arms trade in many ways which includes spending tax-payers money. The most obvious is through the Defence Export Services Organisation, a government agency of 600 people dedicated to exporting arms, and the most expensive is through the funding of military research and development. Royalty, ministers and the Prime Minister travel the world selling weapons at the expense of the tax-payer. And when deals look likely, generous financial arrangements are made through the Export Credits Guarantee Department. CAAT estimates that UK arms export receive a subsidy of around 750m per year.
The arms trade is NOT vital for UK jobs According to the governments own figures, there are about 70,000 people employed by the arms trade, less than 0.8% of the UK workforce. The massive and disproportionate assistance given to arms exports (around 750m a year, see above) means that each arms export is subsidised by over 10,000 per year. This is an enormous amount of money which would create far more jobs in other, less capital intensive (and risky) sectors such as health, education, environmental technology or transport. A recent MoD/York University report stated that if subsidies were cut by 50 per cent, 49,000 job losses would be offset by 67,000 jobs created in the civil sector (ALL FACTS OBTAINED FROM CAMPAIGN AGAINST ARMS TRADE – www.caat.org.uk)
This years graduation ball had its tickets sponsored by BAE Systems
There were several complaints about this in the Wessex Scene
The UK arms industry has a history of unethical foreign trade which has resulted in the suffering of millions of people abroad
Taxpayers money is wasted on supporting the arms industry that could otherwise be spent elsewhere
The Union should have an ethical policy in all its dealings and not accept sponsorship money from or allow trade with companies known to be involved in unethical practices.