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Christmas Island

Volume 495: debated on Monday 6 July 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make an assessment of the merits of (a) commissioning a commemorative Christmas Island medal and (b) awarding the general service medal to those who served at Christmas Island; and if he will make a statement. (283835)

Since the end of World War II, the Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals (known as the HD Committee) has maintained a policy that it will not consider the belated institution of awards and medals for service given many years earlier. The reason for this policy is that the present HD Committee cannot put itself in the place of the Committee which made the original decision and which would have been able to take account of the views of the Government and of other interested parties at the time of the decision. The HD Committee has made it clear on a number of occasions in response to requests for the institution of belated awards, that it will not reconsider this policy.

It has never been the Government's policy to consider service of a particular specialist nature such as the British nuclear test programme as the sole justification for the institution of a medal. It would be divisive to offer service personnel a medal simply for being involved in this project, when those who have undertaken other specialist duties would be excluded from receiving any award. This does not imply that their contribution to the defence of the country has not been appreciated.