HC Deb 09 January 2001 vol 360 cc480-1W
Mr. Ruane

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent representations he has received from service personnel who have undergone experiments at Porton Down. [144476]

Dr. Moonie

[holding answer 8 January 2001]: I announced on 21 November 2000, Official Report, columns 101–02W, a number of measures aimed at assisting Service personnel gain information about the trials they were involved in at Porton Down. Since my announcement, the Porton Down Volunteer helpline, which was established in January 1998, has received 120 calls. Volunteers who approach the helpline will obtain full information, by letter, on their own trials, and be offered the opportunity to examine the records for themselves at the site. I also offered volunteers the opportunity of receiving a thorough medical assessment, along the lines of the well established Gulf Veterans' Medical Assessment Programme (MAP) at St. Thomas' Hospital, London. As at 4 January, the MAP programme has received 20 inquiries, of which 14 volunteers have been referred to the MAP for assessment.

We have also received 24 other inquiries, in the form of Parliamentary Inquiries and letters from members of the public, on matters relating to the trials at Porton Down. Porton Down have also received written correspondence from members of the public, doctors and the War Pensions Agency.

Mr. Ruane

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the chemicals used in experiments on service personnel at Porton Down. [144477]

Dr. Moonie

[holding answer 8 January 2001]: Comprehensive records at Porton Down show that since 1990 the following drugs (chemicals) have been administered to personnel taking part in the Service Volunteer Programme at CBD Porton:

Anti-biotics ciprofloxacin doxycycline

Anti-emetics ondansetron granisetron

Carbamates pyridostigmine physostigmine

Anti-cholinergics hyoscine pilocarpine

Oxime HI-6

Solvent DMSO.

Most of the studies involved an assessment of the military acceptability of prospective or in-service medical countermeasures that would save lives if biological, chemical or nuclear weapons were used against the UK or its armed forces.

Work is proceeding to research records prior to 1990 but this is time consuming and the records become less comprehensive with age. However records do show that the following drugs (chemicals) were used, although this list is not exhaustive: Nerve Agents Vesicants (mainly mustard) Riot Control Agents (CS and others) Incapacitants (e.g. LSD, glycollates) Prospective therapies (atropine, oximes, anti-convulsants, carbamates) Artificial SMOG Samples of rubber and fabric formulations Sternutators (organic compounds of arsenic).

Mr. Ruane

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many deaths of service personnel were directly attributable to chemical weapons experiments at Porton Down. [144478]

Dr. Moonie

[holding answer 8 January 2001]: Since 1940 we have had well over 20,000 volunteers take part in trials. There has been one death on the site, that of Ronald Maddison in 1953.