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20 Mar 1995 : Column WA55

Written Answers

Monday 20th March 1995

Yemen: Bilateral Aid

Lord Coleraine asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they propose to resume the bilateral aid programme to the Republic of Yemen, and, if so, when.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): We have recently informed the Government of the Republic of Yemen that UK bilateral aid activity will resume at the start of the 1995/96 UK financial year.

Overseas Missions: Cost Controls

Lord Molloy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to examine the costs involved in the running of Britain's embassies and High Commissions.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The allocation of resources to all overseas Missions is reviewed annually in the Top Management Round, as described in the FCO's 1995 Departmental Report (CM 2802). In addition, teams of inspectors visit Missions on a cycle of between four and six years. They are charged with assessing staffing levels and other resources against the tasks being undertaken by each Mission and its objectives. In the year to September 1994, the inspectors visited 43 posts, and found efficiency savings from 41.5 net staff post reductions worth £2.6 million.

Cayman Islands and British Virgin Islands: Right of Individual Petition

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to their Written Answer of 1 March (HL WA 97), what was the relevance of the review of legislation in the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands to the decision taken in January 1986 not to renew the right of individual petition, pursuant to Article 63(4) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The review is intended to be part of a continuing process of consultation with the governments in the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands, aimed at further enhancing the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in those territories.

The European Movement: Grant

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it was a proper use of taxpayer's money to pay in 1994 a grant of £10,000 to the European

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    Movement, in view of its status as a political organisation campaigning for closer European union.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Yes. This was a one-off grant, made available in 1993 to help the European Movement attract corporate sponsorship. Like other non-governmental organisations to which the Government has given grants, the European Movement attracts all-party support.

EU/Turkey Agreement: Mr. Karayalcin's Remarks

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will place in the Library of the House of Lords a copy of the text, both in the original Turkish and in English translation, of the remarks made by the Turkish Foreign Minister, Mr. Murat Karayalcin, during the signing of the agreement between Turkey and the European Union concerning the customs union, on Monday 6 March 1995.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: I have arranged for a copy of the English text of Mr. Karayalcin's intervention at the EU/Turkey Association Council on 6 March to be placed in the Library. We do not have a copy of the text in Turkish.

Gulf War: Alleged Use of Chemical Weapons

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have seen a copy of the chemical officer's log released by Lt Gen R I Neal, Deputy Commander of Central Command, US Department of Defense, to Mr. Paul Sullivan, President of Gulf War Veterans of Georgia, which proves that chemical weapons were used during the Gulf War, and if so what is their response.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Henley): This is a matter for the Chief Executive of the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment. I have therefore asked him to reply.

Letter to the Countess of Mar from the Director General of the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment, Dr. Graham Pearson, dated 20 March 1995:

1. Your Parliamentary Question to Her Majesty's Government of 7 March 1995 asking whether they have seen a copy of the chemical officer's log released by Lt Gen R I Neal, Deputy Commander of Central Command, US Department of Defence, to Mr Paul Sullivan, President of Gulf War Veterans of Georgia, which proves that chemical weapons were used during the Gulf War, and if so what is their response, has been passed to me to answer as Chief Executive of the Chemical Biological Defence Establishment.

2. The role of the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment is to carry out work to ensure that the

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UK Armed Forces are provided with effective protective measures against the threat that chemical and biological weapons may be used against them.

3. The United States Department of Defence Desert Storm Nuclear Biological and Chemical log which was released by Lt Gen R I Neal to Mr. Paul Sullivan was drawn upon by the US Department of Defence in preparing material used to brief the US Defence Science Board Task Force on Persian Gulf War Health Effects. An abbreviated selection of chemical/biological incidents extracted from these logs is contained in Appendix B, pages 1-6 of the report of the Defence Science Board issued in June 1994.

4. As Director General and Chief Executive of CBDE Porton Down, I was invited to attend and participated as a specialist adviser to the Defence Science Board Task Force on Persian Gulf War Health Effects and was therefore present at the briefings to the Defence Science Board by the Department of Defence on the incidents reported in the US Department of Defence NBC log from the Gulf conflict and summarised in Appendix B to the Defence Science Board Task Force. The Defence Science Board Task Force concluded that they had found no evidence that either chemical or biological warfare was deployed at any level against the coalition forces or that there were any exposures of US Service members to chemical or biological warfare agents in Kuwait or Saudi Arabia. The Task Force noted that they were aware of one soldier who was blistered, plausibly from mustard gas, after entering a bunker in Iraq during the post-war period. The report noted that the one plausible injury occurred during inspection and demolition of Iraqi bunkers and stated that "It seemed to be the result of accidental contact of the soldier with contaminated soil in a bunker that may have been used previously, (probably during the Iran-Iraq war) for storing mustard".

5. The United Kingdom and the United States utilised a wide range of detectors so as to provide warning to our forces prior to exposure to a harmful concentration of agent. Such detectors are sensitive and there are carefully laid down procedures in the event of any single detector alarming for checks to be carried out so as to determine whether an alarm was indeed caused by a chemical or biological weapon attack. The incidents cited from the US Department of Defence Desert Storm NBC log from the Gulf conflict did not result in any confirmation that chemical or biological warfare agents had been used by Iraq against the coalition forces. Our conclusion is that there is no evidence that chemical or biological warfare agents were used during the Gulf conflict.

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why they seek to appoint to the HFEA only those people who have no "personal convictions" (HC Deb. 14th February 1995, cols. 909–910), concerning the techniques that the HFEA is required to regulate, seeing that those professionals who perform the

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    techniques, and all the others whom they appoint, will hold the "personal conviction" that the techniques are morally acceptable, and why this "personal conviction" is not held to be as likely as any other to affect their ability properly to "examine and advise on these sensitive issues" (HC Deb., col. 909); and

    Why they consider the exclusion of people within one range of "personal convictions" from, and the inclusion of people within another range of "personal convictions" in, the HFEA can provide a "broad and balanced set of views" (HC Deb.,) 14th February 1995, col. 909), and will they now ensure that they themselves (and the HFEA) are assisted by a professional philosopher to help them avoid logical and ethical confusions.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Cumberlege): Members of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority are expected to participate in all the authority's functions, including visiting, inspecting and making decisions about licences for clinics which carry out regulated fertility treatments and embryo research. No individual is excluded from membership of the authority because of their personal convictions. However, it is important before appointing members to ascertain whether they have any personal convictions which they feel may make it difficult for them to participate in the full range of the authority's activities. Through the authority's membership it has access to a range of informed moral and ethical views.

IVF Treatment: Reports on Children

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they can confirm that, as stated by the Minister on 14th February 1995 (HC Deb., col. 910), "The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) keeps a register of all children born as a result of [IVF] techniques", and whether there has been in operation a medical and psychological follow-up "all these children", and if so why its results have not been published.

Baroness Cumberlege: From 1988 the Interim Licensing Authority, and from 1 August 1991 the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) have kept registers of in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment, including information about children born as a result of IVF treatment.

The summary of The Report of the Medical Research Council Working Party on Children Conceived by IVF by Pat Doyle and Valerie Beral, was published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ 1990, 300: 1229–33). A study comparing the family relationships of children aged about 7 and born as a result of donor insemination or IVF or by normal means or adopted, was published in December in the 1993 Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynaecology 14 (Special Issue) Quality of Parenting in Families Created by the New Reproductive Technologies: A Brief Report of Preliminary Findings

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(S. Golombok, R. Cook, A. Bish and C. Murray.). Copies of the documents are available in the Library.


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