HC Deb 10 June 2002 vol 386 cc741-2W
Mr. Cousins

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what research programmes are being carried out by the Government(a) unilaterally and (b) in partnership with other Governments into the development of (i) non-lethal weapons and (ii) new techniques and equipment for use in urban warfare. [59726]

Dr. Moonie

The Ministry of Defence has few research programmes that specifically address non-lethal weapons. There are, however, a wider variety of research programmes that might be considered to contribute to non-lethal capabilities, details of which I am withholding under Exemption 1 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information. The MOD's main non-lethal weapon is the baton round which is employed in forces world wide.

Work into alternatives to baton rounds and a broader range of public order equipment is currently under way and is being led by the Northern Ireland Office. This is in response to recommendations in the Patten report and from the Association of Chief Police Officers, who are looking to enhance the police's range of less lethal weaponry.

On the question of international partnerships, the United Kingdom does not collaborate with any Government on non-lethal technologies. However, it does have information exchange agreements with both the US and our European partners. No research programmes in the fields of non-lethal weapons or new techniques and equipment for use in urban warfare are being carried out by the Ministry of Defence in partnership with foreign Governments.

On the development of techniques and equipment for use in urban warfare, it is not yet clear to what extent the UK will be involved in fighting in these areas in the future. We are, however, undertaking a number of studies into how existing and planned equipment and doctrine could be developed for use in an urban environment.