HC Deb 10 July 2003 vol 408 cc935-6W
Mr. Willis

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what(a) political control provisions and (b) ethical guidelines are in place for public sector bodies and their subcontractors who are testing and evaluating less-than-lethal weapons. [123026]

Mr. Ingram

All weapons procured by the Ministry of Defence are subject to legal review in accordance with Article 36 of the 1977 First Additional Protocol to the 1949 Geneva Conventions and all new weapons and means and methods of warfare are reviewed to confirm their acceptability relative to the United Kingdom's obligations under the law of armed conflict. There are no exemptions for legal review for non-lethal or less-lethal weapons.

The main ethical consideration in evaluating such weapons derives from the potential effects on personnel taking part in testing. All evaluations involving human volunteers are subject to ethical constraints, specified in the Guidelines of the Royal College of Physicians. All MOD trials need to be approved by a MOD ethics committee following these guidelines. Trials involving sub-contractors are approved by a committee formed by that sub-contractor.

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