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Written Answers to Questions

Monday 2 July 2001

SOLICITOR-GENERAL

Fahri Bici and Avni Dudi

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Solicitor-General what conclusions she has reached concerning the three paratroopers alleged to have shot Fahri Bici and Avni Dudi. [1079]

The Solicitor-General: Fahri Bici and Avni Dudi were killed in Pristina in Kosovo on 2 July 1999. Three British servicemen who were part of the KFOR peacekeeping operation fired the shots that killed them. Fahri Bici had been sitting on the roof of a moving car firing a Kalashnikov automatic rifle into the air. The servicemen said Fahri Bici pointed the rifle at them after being told to drop the weapon. They said they shot at him as they feared their lives were in danger. Avni Dudi was a passenger in the car and was killed by bullets aimed at Fahri Bici. Two other passengers in the car were severely injured.

The Special Investigation Branch of the Royal Military Police carried out an investigation. Following consultation with the former Attorney-General, Lord Williams, the Army Prosecuting Authority sought the advice of Treasury Counsel. Treasury Counsel advised the Army Prosecuting Authority that there was no realistic prospect of conviction of the three servicemen of any criminal offences. Lord Williams accepted the view of the Army Prosecuting Authority that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute.

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Mercenaries

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what measures he is taking to monitor and regulate companies recruiting and selling the services of mercenaries; and when he will publish a consultative paper on options for future regulation. [979]

Peter Hain: The aim of the Green Paper, recommended by the Foreign Affairs Committee in its Report on Sierra Leone published in February 1999, is to set out options for the regulation of mercenaries and private military companies. Work on the Green Paper is continuing; the issues are complex. I am unable at present to give a specific date for publication of the paper.

Meanwhile, guidance has been issued to British embassies requiring them to report any contact with companies which may be judged to fall within this sector.

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Ministerial Visits

Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to visit (a) Kuwait, (b) Libya, (c) the West Bank, (d) Jerusalem, (e) Albania, (f) Ukraine, (g) Denmark, (h) Chechnya, (i) Syria, (j) Egypt and (k) Jordan. [1122]

Mr. Straw: I am currently considering proposals for visits to a number of countries. The House will be informed when decisions have been made.

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) when he next plans to visit (a) Bangladesh, (b) Nepal, (c) Hong Kong, (d) North Korea, (e) South Korea, (f) Malaysia, (g) the Moluccas Islands, (h) Rwanda, (i) the Democratic Republic of the Congo, (j) the Central African Republic, (k) Mozambique, (l) Nigeria, (m) Brazil, (n) Bolivia, (o) Mexico, (p) Guatamala and (q) Peru; [1819]

Mr. Straw: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 26 June 2001, Official Report, column 78W.

Settlement Application

Mr. Rooney: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when a decision will be made on the settlement application under Islamabad reference 496527. [1646]

Mr. Bradshaw: The application for a settlement visa was refused by the Entry Clearance Officer at Islamabad on 17 May. Notice of appeal against the refusal was received on 12 June. It is not possible to predict when the appeal will be heard by the Immigration and Appellate Authority, nor the eventual determination.

DEFENCE

Porton Down

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many service personnel took part in experiments at the chemical defence establishment at Porton Down in 2000. [1004]

Dr. Moonie: During 2000 a total of 19 service volunteers participated in studies conducted at CBD Porton Down. A further 25 RAF service volunteers participated in a CBD study conducted at RAF Honington in 2000.

Thirty five civilian volunteers also took part in the human volunteer programme at Porton Down during 2000.

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Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library a list of the titles and dates of films held by the chemical and biological defence establishment, Porton Down, which record the establishment's trials with biological warfare simulants in public places since 1971. [997]

Dr. Moonie: No. The Chemical and Biological Defence Sector at Porton Down has been unable to identify any films recording trials with biological warfare simulants in public places since 1971.

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will instruct the chemical defence establishment, Porton Down, to conduct research to determine the long-term effects of a single dose of the oripavine derivative TL 2636 on the health of humans. [989]

Dr. Moonie: No. The current evidence suggests that following single, acute doses of the oripavine derivative TL 2636 there are no long-term effects on health. The conduct of a study is, therefore, not warranted.

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if the comprehensive survey of the service volunteer programme at the chemical defence establishment, Porton Down, announced on 1 May will examine allegations that service personnel were misled into taking part in experiments at Porton Down. [1003]

Dr. Moonie: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 1 May 2001, Official Report, columns 550–51W.

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if his Department will transfer films from the archives of the chemical defence establishment, Porton Down, to the Imperial War Museum. [998]

Dr. Moonie: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 9 May 2001, Official Report, column 196W.

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library copies of technical reports compiled by the chemical and biological defence establishment, Porton Down, to record the results of trials carried out between 29 September 1975 and 21 October 1975 in which two simulants were disseminated from the Fleet Tender Cockchafer in Lyme and Weymouth bays. [996]

Dr. Moonie: I am withholding copies of the technical reports under Exemption 1 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library a copy of the protocol drawn up by the chemical defence establishment, Porton Down, to carry out the experiment in 1989 in which service personnel were exposed to sarin nerve gas. [987]

Dr. Moonie: Yes.

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many papers in the MRD report series of technical papers produced by the biological defence establishment at Porton Down are unclassified; when this series of papers (a) started and (b) finished; how many

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papers in this series were produced in total; and if he will place in the Library a list of the titles and dates of each of the papers in this series. [991]

Dr. Moonie: The MRD series of reports started in 1950 and finished in 1956. Of a total of 20 papers produced during this period, five were originally unclassified. However, Defence Records are now in the process of re-reviewing all 20 reports to establish whether the original classifications still stand. If declassification is possible, reports will be transferred to the PRO. I will arrange for a list detailing these reports to be placed in the Library of the House.

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what requests he has received from Wiltshire police to assist the Operation Antler team to locate official notices which are alleged to state that volunteers were needed to take part in common cold research at the Chemical Defence Establishment, Porton Down. [1734]

Dr. Moonie: My officials were asked to undertake a full search of all service instructions and notices dealing with the Porton Down Service Volunteer Programme. In addition, we have provided research support to the Wiltshire police in examining service unit records, as well as initiating a full trawl by service units and establishments for any relevant records or historical papers.


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