HC Deb 13 January 1999 vol 323 c221W
Mr. Stinchcombe

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what instructions have been given to the Benefits Agency and other related agencies to expedite claims for benefits from victims of Gulf War Syndrome. [64998]

Mr. Timms

Extensive international research has not identified a specific Gulf-related illness.

Claims by Gulf war veterans in respect of Social Security benefits are dealt with by the Benefits Agency in the same way as all other claims.

The War Pensions Agency endeavours to action all claims for war pension (which may be made in respect of any condition believed to be due to any service in the armed forces) as expeditiously as possible. Claims for war pension in respect of Gulf-related illnesses are dealt with by a dedicated section within the War Pensions Agency. A high proportion of Gulf claims are for a number of ill-defined conditions and consideration of these requires extensive medical and other evidence before claims can be determined.

In order to expedite awards, partial decisions are made as an interim measure whilst other inquiriesz continue, and, where despite these inquiries the diagnosis remains unclear, the World Health Organisation international classification of diseases (ICD 10) "symptoms, signs and ill-defined conditions" is used. Also, medical evidence from any previous attendance at the Ministry of Defence Gulf Veterans' Medical Assessment Programme is used whenever possible as this may reduce the requirement to seek further evidence.