HC Deb 30 October 1996 vol 284 cc160-1W
Mr. Livingstone

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what was the outcome of his Department's investigation started in 1986 into whether casualties contaminated by mustard gas at Bari harbour, Italy, in 1943 should be awarded back-dated war pensions; and if he will make a statement. [743]

Mr. Heald

This investigation was undertaken following the exceptional decision to backdate the payment of war disablement pension to an individual who had been exposed to mustard gas while serving in the Royal Navy at Ban harbour in 1943. He had claimed a war pension in 1983 and contended that he would have claimed earlier had he been aware of the precise nature of the substance with which he had been contaminated.

The purpose of the special exercise was to identify other casualties of the incident in order to establish whether similar action was appropriate in their cases. A press notice announcing the exercise was issued and as a result of this 87 new claims for war pension were received, of which 33 were successful. In addition, 97 claims which had been made previously were reviewed. In total, of the 184 claims, 105 were successful.

The exercise confirmed that all but one were aware at the time of the incident that they had been exposed to mustard gas.

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