HC Deb 20 November 2000 vol 357 c5W
Mr. Hancock

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what investigations have been carried out by his Department into Gulf War syndrome; what are the causes of Gulf War-related illnesses; and if he will make a statement. [138454]

Mr. Spellar

In July 1997, the Government published a detailed policy statement: "Gulf Veterans' Illnesses: A New Beginning", which set out how we proposed to address veterans' health concerns, including 20 key points on which the Government are taking specific action. Progress against the 20 key points has been reported and published, the most recent occasion being as part of the Defence Committee's Eleventh Special Report, Session 1999–2000. Further details of the Government's work to date can be found in the Library of the House and on my Department's website at: http://gulfwar.mod.uk. The Government accept that since returning from the Gulf conflict, some British veterans have become ill. Many believe that this ill-health is unusual and directly related to their participation in the conflict. Research published so far shows that Gulf veterans report more health problems than comparable military personnel who were not deployed to the Gulf.

However, the findings also support the view that Gulf veterans were not suffering from a single illness or "syndrome", and that the illnesses identified were not unique to the veterans. There is still no medical or scientific consensus on this subject. My Department remains open minded about the various causes of illness which have been suggested and important research continues.

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