HC Deb 07 October 2003 vol 411 c163W
Ms Atherton

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) when he plans to issue qualification criteria for the medal for service in the Suez Canal Zone; how long the distribution of medals will take; and what factors underlie this timetable; [131437]

(2) what measures he is taking to try to ensure that Suez Canal Zone veterans receive their medals before this year's Remembrance Day service; [131438]

(3) what measures he will take to minimise the number of veterans who lose their eligibility to the Suez Canal Zone medal because of the lack of detail in service records of the 1950s. [131439]

Mr. Caplin

Final approval of the Suez Medal is now awaited. As soon as that occurs I will make a statement to the House. Prior to that officials are carrying out preparatory work on the applications already received, and aim to issue medals to eligible veteran's as soon as practicable.

It is hoped that everyone who served in the Suez Canal Zone for the requisite number of days, within the designated dates and geographical boundaries which are in the process of being agreed, will receive a medal and/or clasp. However, on some individual Service records it might be more difficult to confirm eligibility from the limited information. In such cases, the files will be cross-referenced against the detailed Service records and maps that have been prepared by officials from contemporary historical documents. These will help to determine which Units, ships, regiments, squadrons etc. were deployed in the Canal Zone during the period specified in the White Paper. In rare cases where the evidence is insufficient to confirm eligibility for the medal, the medal offices may have to invite veterans to supply additional proof of entitlement in the form of contemporary official documentation, but it is hoped that this will not be necessary, I expect most veterans to receive their medals during the course of next year.

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