§ Mr. Kilfedder
asked the Minister of State for Defence what is the reason for the delay in the provision of the General Service Medal to members of the Ulster Defence Regiment ; when a member of the Ulster Defence Regiment becomes 361W entitled to the medal ; how many members have been awarded the medal ; and how many members who are entitled to it have not yet been awarded it.
§ Mr. Blaker
The Army Medal Office has received 86,000 claims for the award of the General Service Medal 1962 with Northern Ireland clasp of which 8,051 have come from members of the Ulster Defence Regiment. Delay in dealing with such a large number of claims has been inevitable, but with additional staff the Army Medal Office is now keeping pace with deliveries of medals from the Royal Mint.
All Service men qualify for the medal after they have completed 30 or more days' service in Northern Ireland, not necessarily continuous, between 14th August 1969 and a future date to be decided.
Issues are made strictly in the order in which applications are received from record offices for Regular and part-time units alike, apart from certain priority issues to troops taking part in important parades. The first issues to the Ulster Defence Regiment are now being made.
Twenty-four individual medals have already been issued to legal beneficiaries of deceased personnel of the regiment.