Unions tell of fears over arms export sell-off

Unions tell of fears over arms export sell-off

Fears over the proposed privatisation of arms export licensing were underlined during a meeting between the Trade and Industry Secretary and civil service unions.

Representatives from Prospect and the other civil service unions met with Secretary of State Alan Johnson to raise their deep-seated concerns over the proposed privatisation of arms export licensing.

Prospect, on behalf of the unions, has already written to MPs outlining their fears. Early day motion number 344, tabled by Liberal Democrat trade spokesman Malcolm Bruce, expresses alarm over the potential privatisation, in particular the likely detriment to confidential information-sharing between states on arms transfers and potential conflicts of interest for any private sector partner.

Speaking after the meeting, Prospect negotiator Garry Graham said: "The minister informed us that he is to make a decision on this issue imminently. We believe the initiative is driven by crude Treasury head count reduction targets and arcane accounting rules, and are concerned that efficiency, effectiveness and public accountability of this service will suffer as a result.

"This has severe ramifications for national and international security. We do hope the minister will carefully consider the full range of representations made to him on this issue and that common sense will prevail."