HC Deb 12 April 1967 vol 744 cc1199-200
47. Mr. Hugh Jenkins

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what is the Government's policy towards the international inspection of chemical and biological warfare laboratories, in the light of the Report of the 13th Pugwash Conference, a copy of which has been sent to him.

Mr. Healey

Her Majesty's Government would like to see progress made towards international agreement on measures to deal with chemical and biological weapons. The Western Plan for General and Complete Disarmament makes proposals to this end. We hope that it will, in due course, be possible for the Eighteen-Nation Disarmament Committee at Geneva to examine the problems involved and we naturally welcome contributions such as those by the Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs to their solution.

Mr. Jenkins

Does my right hon. Friend agree that chemical and biological warfare must be mainly directed at the civilian population and that, for this reason, it is a particularly dangerous development, and that the United States Government appear to be trying it out in Vietnam? Will he, therefore, regard this matter with rather greater urgency than has perhaps been done hitherto?

Mr. Healey

I cannot accept my hon. Friend's implied criticism of the urgency with which we regard this matter, but I agree that it would be desirable in all our interests if we could reach an agreement to ensure that these weapons were neither produced nor used.