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Nuclear Weapons

Volume 456: debated on Monday 29 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the operating costs of a new nuclear deterrent is projected to be 5-6 per cent. of his Department’s budget throughout its life cycle. (109887)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 19 December 2006, Official Report, column 1898W, to my hon. Friend the Member for North Ayrshire and Arran (Ms Clark).

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions (a) he, (b) other departmental Ministers and (c) officials have had with the Legal Services Commission on delayed applications for compensation from retired members of the armed forces who took part in British nuclear weapons tests between 1952 and 1967; how many British nuclear test veterans have received compensation arising from exposure to radiation in such tests; and if he will make a statement. (117274)

Neither the Secretary of State for Defence nor other departmental Ministers have had discussions with the Legal Services Commission (LSC) with regard to the delayed applications for compensation from participants in the British nuclear tests of the 1950s and 1960s. The Treasury Solicitor's Department made one telephone call to the LSC in April 2005, following a stay in the legal proceedings which had been agreed between the parties pending a public funding decision for the nuclear test veterans group action. This call was made with a view to ascertaining the likely timeframe for a public funding decision to assist in planning and progressing the proposed litigation. However, contact was not made with the LSC caseholder, no information was given about the funding position, and this initial contact was not followed up.

Compensation under the war pensions scheme is paid on a no-fault basis to former members of the armed forces for disablement causally related to service before 6 April 2005. Claims can be made at any time after service termination. At 30 September 2006, 179,000 war pensions were in payment. Centrally held statistics do not identify the number of nuclear test veterans who have received such compensation for disablement arising from exposure to ionising radiation in the course of these tests.

The UK also administers its own compensation scheme for radiation-linked diseases, but no nuclear test veteran has fulfilled the relevant criteria or therefore received an award.