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Suez Award

Volume 408: debated on Thursday 3 July 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) whether he plans to make awards of the Suez Medal Clasp in advance of Remembrance Sunday this year; and if he will make a statement; [123058](2) when he will announce criteria for applicants for a Suez Medal Clasp. [123059]

I refer the hon. Member to the answer my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister gave on 23 June 2003, Official Report, column 616W, to the hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Russell) and the subsequent answer I gave on 30 June 2003, Official Report, column 38W, to the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Laws). Only when Her Majesty The Queen has approved the medal and the qualifying criteria, and the medals with the new clasp have been minted can they be issued to applicants who fulfil the qualifying criteria. Some medals may be despatched before Remembrance Sunday, but it is estimated that it could take a further two years to distribute the majority of medals to eligible applicants.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what his timetable is for the issuing of the newly-awarded Suez Canal Zone medal to veterans; [123360](2) he will make it his policy to issue to veterans the newly-awarded Suez Canal Zone medal prior to Remembrance Day 2003. [123361]

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will ensure that the medals for service in the Canal Zone, now awarded to Suez veterans, will be issued within six months. [123631]

I refer the hon. Members to the answer my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister gave on 23 June 2003, Official Report, column 616W, to the hon. Member for Colchester (Bob Russell) and the subsequent answer I gave on 30 June 2003, Official Report, column 38W, to the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Laws). Some medals may be despatched before Remembrance Sunday, but it is estimated that up to 200,000 people could be eligible to receive the medal with its clasp. It would be impossible to issue all Suez Canal Zone medals this year, even if everyone who thought they might qualify for a medal applied immediately. It has been estimated that it could take a further two years to distribute the majority of medals to eligible applicants.