§ Joan Ruddock
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what(a) progress has been made and (b) issues remain unresolved in the negotiations concerning a protocol to the Biological and Toxic Weapons Conventions. 
§ Mr. Tony Lloyd
Since 1995 an Ad Hoc Group of States Parties has been meeting in Geneva to consider measures to strengthen the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention. The United Kingdom is responsible for the key sessions on compliance measures and is playing a leading role in the negotiations. The Ad Hoc Group has made considerable progress and is now working on the text of a draft Protocol to the Convention. 1999 has already seen a significant intensification of this work with a total of 16 weeks available for the negotiations, the largest ever number. Much detailed work remains to be done, primarily on the technical aspects of the Protocol, but the UK, together with its EU partners, believes that an effective package of measures can be agreed during 2000. As an indication of the priority the UK attaches to its early and successful completion, we have offered to host the signing ceremony of the Protocol in London.