Arms control

This page highlights some of the current parliamentary material available on arms control. This includes select committee reports, briefing papers on current legislation and other subjects produced by the parliamentary research services, and the latest Early Day Motions put down by MPs.

Commons Briefing Papers

DateDescription
27.01.2016Replacing the UK's Nuclear Deterrent
After nearly a decade of work on a programme to replace the UK's nuclear deterrent from the early 2030s, a decision on taking that programme forward will be made shortly. The Government is expected to seek the approval of Parliament for this decision. But what are the arguments for and against doing so? How much will it cost? And are there any other alternatives?
12.01.2016The 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review
This Commons Library briefing paper examines how the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review will affect the armed forces.
11.01.2016The UK National Security Council
The Commons Library has published a briefing paper on the UK National Security Council (NSC). Using a Q&A format, the briefing provides basic information about its origins, mandate and operation.
16.10.2015The Lausanne Accord with Iran
The nuclear negotiations with Iran took a big step forward with the announcement of a framework for a full agreement, to be signed by the end of June 2015. Will they make it across the finishing line?
08.05.2015UK Arms Export Control Policy
This briefing provides an overview of the development of the UK's legal and regulatory framework for arms exports since 1997. Controversy about UK arms exports to countries involved in the Arab Spring led to changes in how the control regime operates in relation to exports that might be used for internal repression. UK ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty in April 2014 has required amendment of secondary legislation and an updating of the Consolidated Criteria, on which official decisions about whether to approve or refuse an export licence are based. Concerns have been raised that the revised version of the Criteria, published in March 2014, is weaker than the 2000 original and that this has opened the way for a relaxation in UK arms export control policy. The previous Government denied that this had occurred.
10.03.2015The Trident Successor Programme: an update
This briefing paper is now out-of-date and has been replaced by Commons Library Briefing 7353, Replacing the UK's Trident Nuclear Deterrent, 26 October 2015.
05.03.2015Preparations for the 2015 NPT Review Conference
The nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference will be held in New York from 27 April to 22 May 2015. This note looks at progress made since the 2010 Conference and outlines the UK Government's position.
21.11.2014The Arms Trade Treaty
A legally binding Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 2 April 2013. It provides, for the first time, an international legal and regulatory framework for the arms trade based on respect for international law and human rights. The UK ratified the treaty on 2 April 2014. Primary legislation was not required for ratification but secondary legislation was amended and the UK's Consolidated Criteria, which are the basis upon which official decisions are made about whether to approve licence applications for arms exports, were updated. The treaty enters into force on 24 December 2014
19.11.2014Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons
On 8-9 December interested parties will convene in Vienna for the Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons. This will be the third conference on this issue in two years and is the result of an increasing focus by the non-nuclear weapon states on a previously little-debated aspect of the nuclear weapons debate: the humanitarian consequences of their use.
20.10.2014UK-USA Mutual Defence Agreement
The Mutual Defence Agreement allows the US and UK to exchange nuclear materials, technology and information in order to improve their atomic weapon design, development and fabrication capabilities. The most important part of the MDA is due to expire at the end of 2014 and therefore an amendment treaty, which will extend this deadline to 2024, must be ratified by both States and brought into force by the end of this year.

Lords Library Notes

DateDescription
21.01.2013Debate on 24 January: Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament
This Library Note provides background reading in advance of the debate to be held on 24 January on the prospects for multilateral nuclear disarmament, and the contribution which Britain could make.
15.01.2010Debate on 21st January: prospects for nuclear disarmament and strengthening non-proliferation. LLN 2010/002
Debate on 21st January: Prospects for Nuclear Disarmament and Strengthening Non-Proliferation. This Library Note aims to provide background reading for the Debate to be held on Thursday 21st January: 'To call attention to the prospects for multi-lateral nuclear disarmament and for strengthening nuclear non-proliferation' The Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference will take place in May 2010. This Note summarises the main issues addressed in the Foreign Office information paper Lifting the Nuclear Shadow: Creating the Conditions for Abolishing Nuclear Weapons and the Government's agenda for the Review Conference, as laid out in the Cabinet Office paper The Road to 2010: Addressing the Nuclear Question in the Twenty First Century. The Note also chronicles the main developments in the international community since the publication of these papers and summarises some of the contributions to the nuclear debate from a variety of sources, including the views of the UN Secretary General and the former Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
20.03.2009The potential for nuclear proliferation: debate on 26th March 2009. LLN 2009/003
The potential for nuclear proliferation. House of Lords Library Note 2009/003

POSTnotes

DateDescription
01.06.1992Disposal of the CIS nuclear weapons
This POSTnote discusses the safe dismantling of nuclear weapons, what may be done with the materials resulting and related policy issues. POSTnote 35. POST. 1992.

Select Committee Reports

DateDescription
07.07.2011Government response to the first joint report from the Business, Innovation and Skills, Defence, Foreign...
Government response. Defence Select Committee; Foreign Affairs Select Committee; Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee; International Development Select Committee report [Commons]
22.03.2011Scrutiny of Arms Export Controls (2011): UK Strategic Export Controls Annual Report 2009, Quarterly Reports...
Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee; Defence Select Committee; Foreign Affairs Select Committee; International Development Select Committee report [Commons]
12.10.2010Government response to the first joint report from the Business, Innovation and Skills, Defence, Foreign...
Government response. Defence Select Committee; Foreign Affairs Select Committee; Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee; International Development Select Committee report [Commons]
16.03.2010Scrutiny of Arms Export Controls (2010): UK Strategic Export Controls Annual Report 2008, Quarterly Reports...
Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee; Defence Select Committee; Foreign Affairs Select Committee; International Development Select Committee report [Commons]
22.10.2009Scrutiny of arms export controls (2009).
Government response. Ministry of Defence; Foreign and Commonwealth Office; Department for International Development; Department for Business, Innovation and Skills report [Commons]

Early Day Motions

DateDescription
11.01.2012WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION FREE ZONE IN THE MIDDLE EAST
That this House welcomes the Government's support for the establishment of a weapons of mass destruction free zone in the Middle East since the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review ...
07.11.2011CLUSTER MUNITIONS
That this House recalls the historic agreement reached in Dublin on 28 May 2008 creating the international convention prohibiting the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of all ...
02.11.2011ETA CEASEFIRE
That this House welcomes the recent declaration by the Basque group Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) of a permanent and verifiable ceasefire at the Donastia-San Sebastian Peace Conference; ...
12.09.2011ARMS TRADE
That this House notes that the arms export priority markets for the UK Trade and Investment's Defence and Security Organisation in 2010-11 included Algeria, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Saudi ...
23.06.2011NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION
That this House welcomes President Obama's statement to Parliament during his recent state visit that the United States `will meet its obligations under the nuclear Non-Proliferation ...

Glossary

  • Commons Briefing Papers (CBP) Papers providing in-depth and impartial analysis on every major piece of primary legislation and on other topics of public and parliamentary concern. Regular statistics papers are also published.
  • Early Day Motions (EDMs) - formal motions submitted by MPs in the House of Commons
  • POSTnotes (POST PN) - proactive four-page policy briefings from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology based on reviews of the research literature, interviews with stakeholders and peer review, commissioned by the POST Board
  • Lords Library Notes (LLN) - authored publications by the research section of the House of Lords Library that provide analysis of Bills, subjects for debate in the House and other issues of interest to Members.
  • Select Committee Reports - papers produced by all select committees of both Houses