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Gulf War: Mortality Data

Volume 684: debated on Friday 14 July 2006

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Tom Watson) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

As part of the Government’s continuing commitment to investigate Gulf veterans’ illnesses openly and honestly, data on the mortality of veterans of the 1990-91 Gulf conflict are published regularly. The most recent figures for the period1 April 1991 to 30 June 2006 are published today as a national statistic on the Defence Analytical Services Agency website.

The data for Gulf veterans are compared to that of a control group known as the “Era cohort” consisting of Armed Forces personnel of a similar profile in terms of gender, service, Regular/Reservists status and rank, who were in service on 1 January 1991 but who were not deployed to the Gulf. As in the previous release, the Era group has been adjusted for a small difference in the age profile of those aged 40 years and over, to ensure appropriate comparisons.

Key points to note in the data are:

there have been 784 deaths among the Gulf veterans and 796 in the age-adjusted Era comparison group; and

the 784 deaths among Gulf veterans compare with approximately 1,265 deaths which would have been expected in a similar-sized cohort taken from the general population of the UK with the sameage and gender profile. This reflects the strong emphasis on fitness when recruiting and retaining service personnel.

These statistics continue to confirm that UK veterans of the 1990-91 Gulf conflict do not suffer an excess of overall mortality compared with service personnel who did not deploy. The full notice can be viewed at