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Cluster Munitions

Volume 488: debated on Monday 23 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the store of cluster bombs at RAF Welford has been removed since the Government signed the Oslo convention; and whether any cluster bombs remain in the UK. (255603)

We will have eight years, from entry into force of the Convention on Cluster Munitions for the UK, to destroy all cluster munition stockpiles under UK jurisdiction and control. Lord Malloch Brown said in another place on 3 June 2008 that it was his expectation

“that there will be no such weapons on British Territory at the end of the eight year period”.

Concerning any cluster munitions stored on UK territory but under United States control, we are engaged with the United States in order to meet the eight year deadline. All UK cluster munition types have been withdrawn from service. A progressive UK cluster munition disposal programme has begun, with some munitions already destroyed. We expect that all UK stockpiles will be destroyed by 2013 which we anticipate will be four or five years ahead of the deadline.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what mechanisms his Department uses to monitor levels of compliance across military bases with the Government’s commitments on cluster munitions under the Oslo Convention on Cluster Munitions. (256495)

All UK cluster munitions, prohibited once the Cluster Munition Convention enters into force, were withdrawn from operational service on 30 May 2008, when the Convention was adopted. All were immediately segregated for disposal to prevent use and transfer and some have already been destroyed.

Those that are awaiting disposal are stored in a number of secure licensed munitions storage locations and, as such, all cluster munitions are fully accounted for at all times. The MOD has contractual control and oversight over all disposal contracts and disposal certificates are issued when each cluster munition has been destroyed. The MOD carries out checks on contractors to ensure compliance. There is no scope in the disposal contracts for a disposal contractor to do anything other than destroy the munitions. Furthermore, cluster munitions are recorded on the Department’s inventory and explosives safety management IT systems, which means that they can be tracked and prevented from being inadvertently issued for either operational or training purposes.

In withdrawing these munitions from service on 30 May 2008, the UK complied with the spirit of the Convention immediately and well ahead of ratification at which point the provisions of the Convention will become a legal requirement.