HC Deb 25 June 1998 vol 314 c567W
Mr. Key

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence in what ways he is co-operating with the US Defence Secretary in the devising and development of(a) protective equipment and (b) vaccines to defend (i) United States and British troops and (ii) civilian populations from chemical and biological weapons. [46544]

Mr. George Robertson

[holding answer 22 June 1998]: I have recently agreed with the US Defence Secretary that we should increase co-operation to combat chemical and biological weapons. This will further deepen the existing close collaboration in this area.

The UK is already party to a trilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the United States and Canada on chemical and biological defence. Under the auspices of this MOU, we have developed a joint approach to chemical and biological defence and collaboration across the full range of defensive measures, including protective equipment and vaccines. In addition, the three countries are seeking to harmonise our policy and procedures for dealing with the threat from chemical and biological weapons. We also plan to participate in a joint vaccine programme which will develop licensed vaccines for all three countries.

The defence of the civilian population is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary.