HC Deb 04 February 1998 vol 305 cc658-9W
Mr. Green

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has during the United Kingdom presidency of the EU to promote arms control measures. [27252]

Mr. Doug Henderson

We are committed to the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction, and to the strengthening of the relevant arms control and non-proliferation regimes.

Strengthening the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention, through a legally binding Protocol containing verification and compliance measures, is a high priority: we shall use our EU Presidency to press for accelerated progress in the negotiations on such a Protocol.

We shall also promote action by the EU to urge the ratification of or adherence to the Chemical Weapons Convention by those States which have not done so.

With regard to our goal of the elimination of nuclear weapons, we are considering how to take forward action in the Strategic Defence Review and elsewhere.

During our EU Presidency, we shall further pursue a number of measures to control conventional arms proliferation. These include the adoption of an EU Code of Conduct setting high common standards for arms exports from all member states; an EU-wide ban on the export and transhipment of electro-shock equipment and devices designed for the restraint of a human being; and work under the EU Programme for Combating Illicit Trafficking in Conventional Arms.

We are continuing to discuss with other countries how to secure further progress towards making a global ban on anti-personnel land mines a reality, including encouraging ratification by those who have signed the Ottawa Convention, and urging as many as possible of those who have not yet done so to sign it. We shall press for complementary action to promote a global ban of anti-personnel land mines in international forums, including the CD in Geneva. We shall also promote further EU work on demining during our Presidency.