A parliamentary row over UK arms exports to Saudi Arabia has burst into the open, after a panel of MPs failed to agree whether weapons sales to the desert kingdom should be halted over its bombing campaign in neighbouring Yemen.

Senior Conservative MP Crispin Blunt is understood to have blocked agreement on a report by the Commons Committees on Arms Export Controls (CAEC), which was expected to call for a suspension of sales pending independent investigation into allegations of breaches of international humanitarian law (IHL).

Now the Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) which Mr Blunt chairs - one of the three cross-party committees which together make up the CAEC - has released a rival report insisting that it is for the UK courts to decide on the legality of continued sales.

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Its conclusions contrast with those of a second report, published by the Business and International Development committees.

Mr Blunt also called for a review of the suitability of laws governing arms exports.

The highly unusual decision to publish two simultaneous reports is a mark of the depth of controversy over claims that UK-made armaments are being used in indiscriminate bombing raids on civilian targets.

International medical aid charity Medecins Sans Frontieres has accused Saudi Arabia of war crimes for an air strike on its hospital which killed at least 11 last month.

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An internal investigation launched by Saudi Arabia is regarded as inadequate by campaigners including the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), which is taking legal action to seek the suspension of arms export licences to the country.

Mr Blunt was reported to have regarded a draft CAEC report recommending suspension as one-sided, and to have walked out of a private meeting to prevent a vote on it.

Unveiling the rival report produced by the FAC, he said that any decision on suspension should await the completion of a judicial review in the CAAT case.

The FAC report said that the courts are the most appropriate body to decide whether the Government has broken the law by permitting continued sales. And it gave its support to calls for a UN-led independent investigation into allegations of humanitarian violations during the Saudis' military action against Shia rebels known as the Houthis.

"Saudi Arabia is a key partner of the United Kingdom in addressing our shared challenges in the Middle East," said Mr Blunt.

"I am yet to hear any persuasive argument for how we better secure our many strategic objectives in the region without a strong relationship with Saudi Arabia.

"This includes bringing about a political solution to the current conflict in Yemen, that was so deplorably precipitated by the armed Houthi rebellion in 2014.

"However, the massive British interest in continued UK-Saudi relations cannot override our wider legal and moral obligations.

"It is crucial that the UK does everything in its power to ensure full compliance with international humanitarian law by the Saudi-led coalition."

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Mr Blunt said the FAC report made "serious criticisms" of the Government's handling of the issue and called for "clarity" on the alleged use of UK-manufactured cluster bombs in Yemen, as well as the activities of UK personnel within the Saudi-led military coalition.

"The appropriateness of the current framework of the law is a separate, yet pertinent, question, on which we did not take evidence," he added.

"I believe that there is a clear need for a wider discussion on the suitability of the laws governing arms exports. The Government has serious work to do in answering this report."