HL Deb 16 December 1999 vol 608 cc55-6WA
Baroness Warwick of Undercliffe

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What information they have regarding the number of veterans of the 1990–91 Gulf conflict who have died and the underlying causes of death. [HL424]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean

The Ministry of Defence has reviewed its records and has found that between 1 April 1991 and 22 November 1999 (the latest date for which information is currently available) there were 413 deaths of UK Armed Forces Gulf veterans (out of a total of 53,462 deployed). The causes of death for 387 of the deaths have been determined and are set out in the following table. Sufficient information on the causes of death in the remaining 26 cases is not currently available; work is continuing to establish this.

The Ministry of Defence also has information on the number and causes of deaths in a similar sized comparative sample of Armed Forces personnel in service in January 1991 but who did not deploy to the Gulf. This information has been used by the Ministry of Defence funded epidemiological study undertaken by Professors Nicola Cherry and Gary Macfarlane at Manchester University. The results of this study, commissioned by the Medical Research Council, have been submitted to a leading medical journal for consideration for publication. They will show whether or not the Gulf veterans are experiencing a higher mortality rate than their peers and if so what the causes might be. It is important that this study is independently peer reviewed to ensure publication in a leading medical journal. To ensure this, my honourable friend the Minister of State for the Armed Forces has withheld the information on the comparative group under Exemption 11 a of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

UK ARMED FORCES GULF VETERANS' DEATHS 1 APRIL 1991–22 NOVEMBER 1999 (classified according to the World Health Organisation's International Classification of Diseases 9th revision (ICD-9) (1977)1.
(ICD-9) (1977) Chapter Cause of Death Number of Deaths
I Infectious and parasitic diseases 3
II Neoplasms2 56
V Mental disorders 7
VI Diseases of the nervous system and sense organs 6
VII Diseases of the circulatory system3 48
VIII Diseases of the respiratory system 4
IX Diseases of the digestive system 5
XVI Signs symptoms and ill-defined conditions 2
E.XVII External causes of injury and poisoning 256
Transport accidents 119
Other accidents 53
Accidental poisoning 9
Suicide4 67
Homicide 3
Operations of war5 3
Undetermined accidental deaths 2


1Manual of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases, Injuries and Causes of Death. World Health Organisation. Geneva (1977). ISBN 92 4 154 004 4.

2 Neoplasm is the medical term for a new or abnormal growth of tissue. All the deaths included in the table above were from cancers or leukaemia.

3 The term includes heart disease and stroke.

4 The term includes self-inflicted injury and cases where it is undetermined whether the injury was accidentally or purposely inflicted. This includes an open verdict at inquest.

5 The term includes deaths as a result of military operations and exercises.