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Nuclear Test Veterans

Volume 449: debated on Monday 24 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the cost of awarding war pensions to all nuclear test veterans suffering from radiation linked disease. (86069)

All nuclear test veterans are eligible to claim, under the terms of the war pension scheme, for any disablement causally linked to service rather than for specific conditions or diseases. A war pension is also paid whenever the claimant can raise reasonable doubt, by providing reliable evidence, that the claimed disablement is causally linked to service. The War Pensions Scheme considers disablement from radiation linked disease, to include such conditions as certain thyroid and parathyroid diseases, cataracts and malignant disease and cancer. Cancers due to ionising radiation are clinically indistinguishable from those due to any other cause which are common in a population increasing with age. Based on the findings of National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) reports it is war pensions policy that entitlement is given to any type of leukaemia, other than chronic lymphatic with onset, within 25 years of participation at a nuclear test.

Therefore no estimate has been made of the cost of awarding war pensions to all veterans who might be suffering from a radiation linked disease that has arisen some time after service in nuclear test areas as it might not be linked to that service. The value of a disablement award is determined by the assessed level of all service related disablement, which can be re-assessed if there is subsequent deterioration.