Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) has condemned a Tory minister's claims that the new government will have a "very heavy" commitment to promoting arms sales to compensate for the huge cuts at the Ministry of Defence.
Defence Equipment Minister Peter Luff reportedly said: "There will be a very, very, very heavy ministerial commitment to the process.
"There is a sense that in the past we were rather embarrassed about exporting defence products. There is no such embarrassment in this government."
CAAT said yesterday that this brazen support for the arms trade by the new coalition government will result in existing arms controls being further overridden or ignored and arms companies gaining ever greater influence over government.
CAAT said that Mr Luff's statement was unusual in its frankness but in reality showed there was little difference from the policies of the previous government.
Government support for the arms industry already runs into billions of pounds every year, including research and development spending, generous procurement arrangements and government-backed insurance.
But only 0.2 per cent of the country's workforce are employed in arms export jobs and arms comprise just 1.5 per cent of total exports.
CAAT spokeswoman Kaye Stearman said: "The government should be deeply embarrassed by Peter Luff's statement because, apart from the ethical problems posed by ministers acting as salesmen flogging weapons to abusive and undemocratic countries, it is based on the false premise that arms sales benefit the economy and create jobs.
"They don't. Rather, arms exports only increase the profits and political influence of globalised arms companies and waste resources that could be used to support greater security and economic well-being."
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