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Biological and Toxin Weapons

House of Lords written question – answered on 1st May 2002.

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Photo of Lord Hughes of Woodside Lord Hughes of Woodside Labour

asked Her Majesty's Government:

When they will publish the Green Paper on strengthening the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention and countering the threat from biological weapons.

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)

Yesterday the Foreign and Commonwealth Office published the Green Paper. Copies have been placed in the Library and it can also be accessed on the FCO website at www.fco.gov.uk.

The Green Paper sets out the work that has been undertaken over many years to develop measures to make the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention more effective. The Foreign Affairs Committee, and Parliament in general, have supported these efforts, for which the Government are grateful.

The paper expresses our disappointment at the failure of the states parties to agree on the text of a protocol to the convention last year, despite all our efforts. It also explains why, despite this disappointment, it is still essential that efforts continue to find ways in which the convention can be strengthened and to counter the threat from biological weapons.

The Green Paper identifies possible measures that states parties might now consider to strengthen the convention. It discusses UK priorities and the next steps ahead of the reconvened BTWC Fifth Review Conference in Geneva on 11 November. It also invites comments on these proposals and seeks views from honourable Members, NGOs and other organisations and individuals with an interest in this subject.

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