Letter: Arms deals should be public

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The Independent Online
SO John Major denies knowledge of the arms to Iraq scandal? Apart from the question of whether he should be regarded as a knave or a fool, the whole sorry business raises other issues, particularly the secrecy that surrounds arms deals.

As long as there is secrecy around this iniquitous trade in human misery, there will be scandals and cover-ups linked to it. Clearly, decisions about arms sales should be made in Parliament as part of a policy of genuinely 'open government'. This would ensure that the public was fully aware of the nature of the trade and of the evils it propagates.

One of the many appalling aspects of the arms trade is the linking of aid to the sale of weaponry. It is scandalous, for example, that Malaysia should have been given aid to secure lucrative arms deals for this country.

The Campaign Against the Arms Trade has suggested that Mr Major take the immediate step of introducing a register of applications for weapons exports. This would ensure time for parliamentary and public scrutiny and debate, and prevent another Iraq or Malaysian deal.

Caroline Robertson

Church Crookham, Hampshire