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Biological Weapons Convention

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:10 pm on 1st November 2001.

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Photo of Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean Minister of State (Middle East), Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Minister of State (Trade), Department of Trade and Industry, Minister for Trade and Investment and Deputy Leader of the House of Lords (also Department of Trade and Industry), Minister of State (Trade and Investment) Deputy Leader of the House of Lords (also FCO) 3:10 pm, 1st November 2001

My Lords, I thank my noble and learned friend for his plaudit for Her Majesty's Government on the vigorous way in which we have pursued the protocol. He is right: it is argued in relation to the convention that we need not only verification procedures but also enforcement procedures. The United States felt unable to support the protocol because it believed that it would be ineffective in preventing the proliferation of biological weapons and that it would place an unacceptable burden on United States commercial and defence interests. I remind my noble and learned friend that, although the United States found difficulty with the protocol, it made clear its commitment to strengthening the convention. It has now come forward with proposals about ways in which that might be done. I hope that we shall be able to make some progress at the review conference.