Treasury plans to shut arms sales department
According to an article in the Guardian on 9th July, the Treasury is planning to disband the government's controversial arms sales department, the 450-strong Defence Export Services Organisation (DESO).
Former Treasury cabinet minister
Stephen Timms launched proposals earlier this year to
close down the secretive unit on the grounds that it subsidises profitable
weapons giants such as
DESO, set up in 1966 when the
arms industry was largely state-owned and was mainly concerned with selling off
surplus equipment, spends £15m a year directly on helping British arms firms to
sell equipment abroad. It also lobbies within
The British arms industry sells around £5bn of equipment a year to foreign governments with the help of DESO, which organises arms fairs and marketing campaigns. The firms pay discounted fees for these services, but Treasury officials question why the companies cannot do this themselves or pay the full rate.
News of the Treasury initiative
comes at an awkward time for DESO, which is accused of approving £1bn payments
to Prince Bandar of
According to its web site, the Campaign Against the Arms Trade has asked the Government to confirm the report. (see www.caat.org.uk )