22 Dec 2008

Petition: end taxpayers money for private arms companies

You might be interested in this online petition I just signed - it calls for government department UK Trade and Investment to stop using tax-payers' money to help private companies proliferate arms.

Photo: Morning coffee while ploughing through various local planning applications, papers, emails etc

Sign petition here:

This is an issue I have long campaigned on - it seems extraordinary that the UKTI (UK Trade and Investment) is a government department that helps businesses sell their products worldwide. In 2008, it opened the Defence & Security Organisation to promote arms exports. Essentially, it now employs civil servants to help private companies sell arms. Not quite what I understand an ethical foreign policy to mean?!

UKTI helps arms companies sell to countries involved in conflict and those arms exports facilitate and prolong the conflict. In modern warfare, the casualties are overwhelmingly civilian. It also helps arms companies export to repressive regimes, including to countries classified as ‘major countries of concern’ in the UK government’s own human rights report. BAE systems, one of the companies supported in 2008 had seven of its deals subject to corruption investigations.

This is a shocking use of taxpayers' money, and one for which there is no economic justification. Arms sales account for just 1.5% of UK exports – yet UKTI now devotes as many staff to arms sales as it does to every other industry sector combined.

No comments: