HC Deb 01 May 1995 vol 259 cc88-9W
Dr. David Clark

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what radiological, biological or chemical experiments his Department has carried out in the last 30 years,(a) on volunteers without their knowledge and (b) in public areas; and if he will make a statement. [20847]

Mr. Soames

[holding answer 25 April 1995]: We know of no radiological experiments which have been carried out on volunteers by MOD without their knowledge. The same position applies with respect to volunteers at the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment, where 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 guidelines laid down by the Royal College of Physicians. Prior to participating in a study, the volunteers have the procedures, potential effects and possible risks explained to them in lay terms by an officer. They can withdraw from the study at any time without having to give a reason.

No experiments involving the use of radioactive substances or chemical or biological warfare agents have been carried out in public areas in the last 30 years. However, stimulants of such agents were used in some 100 experiments in the period of 1964 to 1977. The possible effect on the health and safety of personnel in public areas was fully considered prior to conducting the studies. Accordingly, the stimulants used were judged to present no risk to public health. The majority of these experiments involved releasing the stimulants at sea. There have been no experiments in public areas in the last 16 years.