HC Deb 27 April 2001 vol 367 cc419-20W
Mr. Dalyell

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on progress made in the negotiations in Geneva on a protocol to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention. [157441]

Mr. Wilson

On 30 March the Chairman of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) Ad Hoc Group, Ambassador Tibor Toth of Hungary, tabled the text of a draft Protocol to the BWC. This has been sent to all States Parties and will come under discussion at the next negotiating session which begins in Geneva on 23 April. The UK has played a leading role throughout these negotiations as we have had responsibility for the section of the text on compliance measures—the core of the future Protocol. We welcome the appearance of the text and are currently assessing its overall content. A successful outcome by the time of the BWC Review Conference remains a possibility but will depend upon the reaction to the text from all countries involved over the coming months. An effective BWC Protocol remains an important arms control objective for the United Kingdom as it will help fill the last remaining gap in Treaty provisions designed to stem the proliferation of WMD.

Mr. Gerrard

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will place in the Library a copy of the most recently available text of the protocol to the Biological Weapons Convention being negotiated in Geneva. [157604]

Mr. Wilson

The text of the draft Protocol to the Biological Weapons Convention, which was tabled on 30 March, is now a formal document of the BWC Ad Hoc Group and will be under discussion for the first time at the negotiating session which started on 23 April. Its reference number is BWC/Ad Hoc. Group/CRP.8. A copy will be placed in the Library of the House at the earliest opportunity.