§ Dr. David Clark
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what was the nature and purpose of the medical and psychological screening of service volunteers who were tested with LSD at Porton Down;
(2) pursuant to his answer of 21 November 1994, Official Report, columns 55–6, which outside organisations or industrial firms were involved in the LSD tests; and what accidents or mishaps occurred during these experiments with LSD;
(3) pursuant to his answer of 21 November 1994, Official Report, columns 55–6, under which defence agreement was the LSD provided to Porton Down by the then United States army chemical centre at Edge wood in Maryland; what quantity was provided; and in which years was it provided;
(4) pursuant to his answer of 21 November, Official Report, columns 55–6, what follow-up medical checks have been carried out on the mental and physical health 240W of the 72 service volunteers tested with LSD at Porton Down; how many of these volunteers were checked after they left Porton Down; how often these checks were carried out; and who carried them out.
§ Mr. Soames
These are matters for the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment, Porton Down under its framework document. I have asked the chief executive, CBDE to write to the hon. Member.
Letter from Dr. Graham Pearson to Dr. David Clark, dated 7 December 1994:
- 1. Your Parliamentary Questions to the Secretary of State for Defence about work carried out by the Ministry of Defence with LSD at Porton Down have been passed to me to reply as Chief Executive of the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment.
- 2. The role of the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment (CBDE) is to carry out work to ensure that the UK Armed Forces are provided with effective protective measures against the threat that chemical or biological weapons may be used against them. As part of that programme, evaluation is carried out of chemicals that may be utilised by an aggressor as a chemical warfare agent.
- 3. In order to carry out this work, it is necessary to use Service volunteers to:
- a. Assess the ability of Service personnel to function with new equipment and procedures.
- b. Develop medical countermeasures to protect Service personnel
- c. Evaluate the effects of very low and medically safe concentrations of chemical warfare agents on the ability of unprotected personnel to operate normally.
- No studies involving volunteers are carried out unless there is a clear military need and a detailed protocol has been reviewed and approved by an independent Ethics Committee in accordance with the guidelines laid down by the Royal College of Physicians.
- 4. Volunteers on arrival at CBDE Porton Down are given a full medical examination, have the study explained to them in lay terms by an officer who is not involved in the study, are advised that they may leave the study at any stage without any explanation and at the end of the study are given a further medical examination to ensure that they have suffered no harm. In addition, there is no history of Service doctors in their units seeking advice from CBDE Porton Down on any subsequent illnesses that may have been reported by volunteers. Medical screening is part of the standard medical examination to ensure that no pre-existing medical condition could be aggravated by participation in any trial and consists of standard medical tests. The standard medical examinations consists of a full medical history, a full clinical examination and an electro cardiogram.
- 5. The same approach is adopted for psychological screening in order to ensure that a short acting, potent psychotropic drug such as LSD could not aggravate a pre-existing mental disorder. This screening and testing also forms an important part of the scientific assessment of the effects of such drugs so that pre-dose normal effects can be compared to those short term effects seen following administration. The psychological tests employed were the standard psychology tests used in research which were the Maudsley Personality Inventory (MPI), Raven's Progressive Matrices (RPM) and the Heron, Allport-Vernon and Taylor personality and intelligence tests.
- 6. In my earlier answer to you of 21 November 1994 (Official Report, Columns 54–56) I stated that one of the sources of the LSD used in the work and studies carried out at CBDE was the then US Army Chemical Centre at Edgewood, Maryland. According to our records we received 10 grams of LSD in December 1965 and 10 grams in June 1966. The LSD was provided under the American, British, Canadian and Australian Armies (ABCA) agreement Quadripartite Working Group (QWG) on NBC defence.
- 7. No external organisations or industrial firms were involved with the LSD tests undertaken at Porton Down between 1962 and 1971. According to our records no accidents or mishaps occurred with experiments with LSD. At the end of the study all the volunteers would have been given a medical examination and in addition there is no history of Service doctors in their units seeking
241 advice from CBDE Porton Down on any subsequent illnesses that may have been reported by volunteers who took part in the volunteer programme. Indeed, CBDE Porton Down has no evidence that participation in volunteer studies over the past 40 years have resulted in any harm to those concerned.
- 8. From time to time, Service volunteers have been recalled so that checks on their medical health can be made. There is no particular frequency or pattern to such recalls. In addition some volunteers return voluntarily to CBDE to take part in subsequent unrelated studies. It would require a disproportionate effort to search our records to see if any of the 72 Service volunteers had returned subsequently to CBDE for further studies.
- 9. I should add that the Ministry of Defence is very grateful to all Service personnel who have served as volunteers in studies at CBDE Porton Down as their participation has been vital to ensuring that the members of the UK Armed Forces are provided with the most effective protective measures possible against the threat that chemical or biological weapons may be used against them. Such studies are vital to the defence of the realm and we are very grateful to the Servicemen who have helped achieve the high standards of protection that are available for the members of the UK Armed Forces.