§ Mr. Hancock
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the benefits of the United Kingdom being granted special status under the US International Traffic in Arms Regulations; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Hoon
We welcome the announcement of the Defence Trade Security Initiative made by the US Government on 24 May 2000. The proposed reforms to US defence export control arrangements should reduce munitions licensing process times in general and simplify many licensing procedures, particularly for NATO countries, Japan and Australia. They represent a significant step towards enhancing alliance interoperability and preventing the widening of the technology gap.668W
The initiative includes a proposal for an International Traffic in Arms Regulations exemption for the UK and other close allies. This would enhance the ability of UK firms to compete in the US market; to benefit from US Research and Development expenditure; and give access to some of the most advanced defence technologies in the world. US defence companies are, of course, free to compete in the UK market.
We expect early discussions with the US to take this forward as part of the implementation of the UK/US Declaration of Principles.