§ Mr. Sandelson
asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he proposes to take any steps to have sperm whale oil eliminated from products used by the Services and his Department.
§ Dr. Gilbert
I am glad to be able to report substantial progress on this question. I have set in hand measures to remove sperm whale oil and sperm whale oil derivatives entirely from lubricants used by the Ministry of Defence; and by the end of this year no sperm whale oil will be used by the Ministry of Defence in this field.
Following consultations with all the major suppliers of leather to the Ministry's manufacturers of leather goods, the use of the oil has also been excluded from a large number of leather items used by the Services; and in the few cases where such exclusion has not yet been possible, I have set in hand a testing programme with a view to establishing whether leather can be produced without the use of sperm whale oil and still reach acceptable standards. General guidance is also being issued to all procurement divisions of the Department.
In all cases the exclusion of sperm whale oil is being achieved at no cost penalty to the defence budget; nor will the operational effectiveness of the Services be in any way impaired.