News & events

Saferworld welcomes decision to close DESO

26 July 2007 In July, Saferworld welcomed the announcement by the Prime Minister that the Defence Export Services Organisation (DESO) is to close.

With DESO funded by the taxpayer to the tune of approximately £15 million per annum, the decision signals an important first step in halting the excessive Government subsidies to the UK arms industry and ensuring that the defence industry is no longer privileged at the expense of other sectors of the economy. The Government should now look to end the massive export credit subsidy provided to the defence sector (over £200 million per annum).

Saferworld notes, however, that DESO's work is to be folded into that of UK Trade and Investment, the body charged with promoting all British companies. It is important that the closure of DESO heralds a real change in Government policy, and not just a re-organisation of the same activities from one body to another.

Saferworld calls upon the Government to clarify what substantive changes will occur as a consequence of this announcement. It should also explain the impact the announcement will have on DESO's role in implementing existing contracts, such as the Al Yamamah sales to Saudi Arabia, and state explicitly that the closure of DESO will not be used as grounds for refusing to investigate DESO's role in those deals.