HC Deb 22 March 1999 vol 328 cc14-5W
31. Mr. Nigel Griffiths

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with his international counterparts on(a) the disposal of stocks of land mines and (b) the destruction of mines which have been laid. [75996]

Mr. George Robertson

The Government use every appropriate opportunity to press other Governments to ratify the Convention and fulfil all their international obligations under the Ottawa Convention. As I announced to the House on 22 February 1999,Official Report, column 7, we have now destroyed the last of the Army's operational stocks of APM, four years in advance of the requirement laid down under the Ottawa Convention. Destruction of all UK operational stocks of APM will be completed by 1 January 2000. This is another instance of the UK leading international efforts to achieve a world-wide ban on these weapons.

On the vital issue of the destruction of mines already in the ground, the lead for humanitarian de-mining rests with the Department for International Development. But the MOD has established the Mine Information and Training Centre at Minley in Surrey to provide expert, professional advice. I have also recently approved the attachment of a senior British Army Colonel to the Geneva Centre for Humanitarian De-mining to support the international effort. My Department continues to keep under review all opportunities for further assistance where this would be appropriate and useful.