§ Dr. Palmer
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has for epidemiological research on Porton Down volunteers; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Dr. Moonie
The Ministry of Defence has accepted a recommendation by the Medical Research Council (MRC) to fund research to be undertaken by Dr. Kate Venables of Oxford University and colleagues from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and from Imperial College, London. This research will consist of a one-year pilot study to assess the incidence of mortality and cancer among a selected group of 500 Porton Down volunteers compared with a control group of 500 other members of the armed forces and a small scale questionnaire study to evaluate volunteers' own views of their health status.
The pilot study will commence later this month and will take about a year to complete. The MRC will be in a position towards the end of the pilot study to advise MOD whether the available historical data are of sufficient quality and quantity to allow a full scale epidemiological study to proceed.