DNA Samples

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 25th February 2013.

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Photo of David Mowat David Mowat Conservative, Warrington South 2:30 pm, 25th February 2013

What consideration he has given to routinely storing DNA samples for all members of the armed forces.

Photo of Andrew Murrison Andrew Murrison The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

I congratulate my hon. Friend on taking a close interest in this matter. As the Minister responsible for defence personnel, veterans and welfare, my right hon. Friend Mr Francois, told him in November, it is MOD policy

“to offer all military, deployable MOD civilians and other entitled personnel the opportunity to provide reference samples suitable for DNA analysis.”—[Hansard, 26 November 2012; Vol. 554, c. 18.]

That is on entirely a voluntary basis, complies with the Human Tissue Act 2004, and is to enable identification post mortem if required.

Photo of David Mowat David Mowat Conservative, Warrington South

The Minister may recall the case of my constituent Emma Hickman, who had difficulty in demonstrating paternity because of a dispute over the ownership of DNA. That case was resolved, and I thank him for his help in that, but we need routinely to require all active soldiers to have DNA taken so that, as in the case of armies such as that of the United States, samples can easily be made available. By what time scale might we do that?

Photo of Andrew Murrison Andrew Murrison The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

The policy is under review, and it will certainly include reviewing practice in other countries, notably the US, where, as my hon. Friend says, there is mandatory testing on enlistment. That clearly needs to be within UK legislation, particularly the 2004 Act, and I anticipate the result of the current review being available in late spring.