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Military Decorations

Volume 475: debated on Thursday 1 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on how many occasions the Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals has ruled that a medal awarded by a foreign Government may be accepted but not worn by British veterans in the last 30 years. (201167)

The Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals (HD Committee) recommended in 2006 that veterans should be allowed to accept but not wear the Pingat Jasa Malaysia medal. Similar exceptions were made for the Kuwait and Saudi Arabian Medals following the first Gulf War. Second World War veterans who served in Greece may receive campaign medals from the Greek Government (Greek War Medal and War Star) but permission has not been given to wear the medals. There may be further examples over the last 30 years, but the HD Committee’s usual practice is not to recommend acceptance of foreign medals.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many countries award medals to British service (a) personnel and (b) veterans; and whether their recipients in each instance are permitted to wear the medal. (202149)

Two countries (the US and Canada) have recently awarded medals to British service personnel serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Unrestricted permission to accept and wear foreign awards can be granted to British service personnel on exchange, attachment or loan to a foreign state, who are involved in a military operation or emergency on behalf of that state. The same applies to British service personnel serving in a UK unit in a bilateral force under the command of another country, who render special service to that country’s forces in a military operation or emergency. This is consistent with both the five-year rule and the double-medalling rule, which are important in the British honours system.