§ Mr. Bercow
To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on his Government's response to the involvement of a British company in an arms consignment destined for Eritrea, seized at Antwerp on 7 February; what assistance has been supplied(a) to that company and (b) to the national authorities involved; and what changes to departmental procedures have resulted. 
§ The Prime Minister
We have no information on the seizure of an arms consignment on 7 February in Antwerp. But we are aware that a shipment of goods originating in Germany, destined for Eritrea, was seized by Belgian Customs authorities in Antwerp in August 1998. The Belgian Embassy in London notified us in November 1998 that a British company was involved in organising the shipment. The matter is currently before the Belgian courts.240W
The British company, JMT Charlesworth Ltd., applied in 1997 for a DTI-funded Export Marketing Research Scheme grant. The grants are open to British companies with less than 500 employees wishing to research specific overseas markets and are payable after the work has been successfully completed. This was a legitimate request and the company received a grant of just over £1,000 following their study of the market for used, refurbished trucks for sale to Eritrea and Ethiopia. Since the seizure of the shipment the company has received no assistance from the British Government.
In line with our ethical foreign policy we supported UN Security Council Resolution 1227 of 10 February 1999 which demanded a cessation of hostilities between Ethiopia and Eritrea and called for a voluntary arms embargo. We announced on 15 February that the United Kingdom had implemented this arms embargo. We were also instrumental in the adoption by the European Union of a common position on 15 March 1999 implementing an EU arms embargo on Ethiopia and Eritrea.