HC Deb 11 February 1959 vol 599 cc1170-1
23. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Minister of Defence if he will make a statement on the development of botulinus toxin, and other new forms of germ warfare.

Mr. Sandys

I have nothing to add to the reply which my right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply gave on 26th January.

Mr. Allaun

But is the Minister aware that his right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply said that this work is nearly entirely defensive? Even if only 1 per cent. were offensive, does he not think that it is 1 per cent. too much and should be stopped immediately; so would the Government raise the matter at the United Nations to stop the whole filthy business as quickly as possible?

Mr. Sandys

My information is that it is entirely defensive.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

Will the Minister correct the impression given to the House last week by the Minister of Supply that the Government regard bacteriological weapons as just one more conventional weapon of no particular danger? Is it not a fact that experts regard this as a most dangerous new development of warfare?

Mr. Sandys

I think the danger of these weapons is very much exaggerated, but I can assure the House that we have no plans whatsoever to develop or manufacture weapons of this kind for use by ourselves.

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

Is it not a fact that, far from being new, the attention of this country was first directed to germ warfare as a result of experiments carried out in Russia in 1924? Is it not further the fact that the first Labour Government placed the matter under the direction of the Office of Works?