HC Deb 31 January 2002 vol 379 cc497-8W
Mr. Swayne

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had with his US counterpart on(a) the identification and treatment of and (b) compensation for Gulf War illness; and if he will make a statement. [31485]

Dr. Moonie

Neither my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence nor any of his ministerial colleagues have had such discussions. However, the Ministry of Defence's Gulf Veterans' Illnesses Unit has a full time Gulf Health Liaison Officer based in Washington DC, working with the US Military Veterans Health Co-ordinating Board and its subcommittees. Both directly and through the liaison officer, the MOD maintains close links with the relevant US authorities, including the executive office of the President, the Department of Defense, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Veterans' Affairs on all issues surrounding the complex issue of Gulf veterans' illnesses.

No-fault compensations for UK service personnel disabled as a result of their service is provided through the War Pension Scheme (WPS). The WPS applies to all those who have served in the UK forces and is administered by the MOD's War Pensions Agency (WPA). As at 31 December 2001, the WPA had received 1,264 claims for war pension in respect of Gulf veterans' illnesses, of which 1,086 had resulted in an award. Veterans may also be eligible for an Armed Forces Pension Scheme occupational pension and, if they have been medically discharged, this is supplemented by attributable benefits linked to the degree of disability or non-attributable benefits linked to length of service, whichever is the greater.

The MOD has about 2,000 active notices from veterans and members of their families of their intention to claim common law compensation in respect of illness allegedly arising from the Gulf conflict. However, we have still yet to receive any writs or claims of sufficient detail to allow these cases to be taken forward.

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