§ Mr. Kilfoyle
An experimental establishment was first set up at Porton Down in 1916 in direct response to the use of chemical warfare in World War I against the allied forces. At that time, the remit was for both defensive and retaliatory capabilities. Since the late 1950s, the work has been entirely concerned with the defence of the UK and our Armed Forces against the threat posed by both chemical and biological warfare agents.
Though the past 83 years have seen many organisation changes at the site, Porton Down remains home to the UK's centre of expertise in chemical and biological defence matters and is now the Chemical Biological Defence Sector (CBD) of the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA).
Whilst there have been, and still are, aspects of the work which are necessarily classified in the interests of national security, CBD and its predecessor establishments have always sought to encourage their scientists to publish the results of their work in open literature and to inform interested parties, including the media, about their work through activities such as open days, visits and conferences.
§ Mr. Key
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what representations he has received opposing the work of the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency's Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment at Porton 709W Down from (a) members of the public, (b) non-Governmental organisations, (c) charities and pressure groups and (d) hon. Members since May 1997; if he will make it his policy to close the establishment; and when he will visit CBD Porton Down to meet the scientific and industrial staff. 
§ Mr. Kilfoyle
Since May 1997, there have been no representations opposing overall the work of the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency's (DERA) Chemical and Biological Defence Sector at Porton Down (CBD). Letters from members of the public, Members of Parliament and other organisations have focused only on specific programmes and on some areas of work at CBD's predecessor establishments.
As made clear by the previous Secretary of State in the Ministry of Defence paper 'Defending Against the Threat from Biological and Chemical Weapons' announced on 21 July 1999, Official Report, columns 534–35, CBD Porton Down will continue to play a vital part in the Government's response to the proliferation of these weapons.
My noble Friend the Minister of State for Defence Procurement hopes to be able to visit CBD in the near future, as part of a programme of visits to DERA sites.
§ Mr. Spellar
Since May 1997, staff at the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency have responded to some 15 written requests from Mr. Rob Evans for lists of titles, copies of technical papers and other information about work at the Chemical and Biological Defence Sector (CBD) of the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) or its predecessor establishments.
Mr. Evans has spoken to DERA Press Office staff on several occasions during 1998 and once this year to date. I am advised that he may have attended a DERA exhibition in Dorset in September 1997 and may have visited the Porton site as part of a group visit.
Mr. Evans has also written on a number of occasions to officials in other branches of the MOD about matters that are linked to CBD Porton Down.
I am not aware of any direct contact between Mr. Evans and MOD Ministers in the period of this Government.