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Nuclear Test Medals

Volume 737: debated on Monday 11 September 2023

I am pleased to say that the nuclear test medal is now in production, and we are ensuring that as many as possible of the more than 2,000 veterans and families who have applied for the medal will have it in time for this year’s Remembrance events.

The Minister will know that I take an interest in the veterans issue, and I declare an interest as the president of Hinckley’s Royal British Legion. A constituent, Alfred Roy Davenport, served in the RAF medical team from November 1956 to November 1959, stationed on Christmas Island. He is 85 and concerned about the delay there has been in the awarding of these medals, so can my right hon. Friend confirm that all veterans will have these awards ready for Remembrance Sunday, so that our servicemen and women can be congratulated on and recognised for their service?

As my right hon. Friend the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs stated in the House on 7 September, the Government are doing everything possible to ensure that as many nuclear test veterans as possible receive their medals in time for Remembrance Sunday. I appreciate the importance of that. A presentation event to award the first medals is actively being considered by the Office for Veterans’ Affairs, but it is a balance between issuing the medals for Remembrance Sunday and ensuring that they are awarded in an appropriate manner to this cohort.

In a written question to the Minister, I asked whether any files had been removed from the MOD’s health records of nuclear test veterans. He assured me that the Department was “not aware” of any removal, but many nuclear veterans continue to report finding large gaps when requesting their medical records. Can the Minister therefore clarify, if the files have not been removed,

how nuclear veterans and their families can gain full access to them?

They will need to apply for a subject access request. I reiterate what I said in my answer to her written question: we of course do everything we can to locate records when people request them, and I assure her that we could find none on this occasion.