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Gulf War: Pensions

Volume 684: debated on Tuesday 25 July 2006

asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Drayson on 12 July (WA 124), where, in the Ministry of Defence response to the president of the Pensions Appeal Tribunal’s letter of 5 April, does the department address the hope expressed by the then Minister for veterans’ affairs in October 2005 that the tribunals decisions had achieved closure of the Gulf War syndrome issue, while the subsequent handling by the Veterans’ Agency and the Ministry of Defence of its decision in the McGreevy case appeared designed to undermine any such closure. [HL7048]

In the Ministry of Defence letter of 5 June to the president of the Pensions Appeal Tribunal, the fourth paragraph states: “As you are aware, the Ministry of Defence welcomed the decision by the Pensions Appeal Tribunal in the case brought by Mr Martin. The Tribunal’s decision accepted the use of the umbrella term Gulf War Syndrome for accepted conditions which are causally linked to service in the 1990-91-Gulf War. The Secretary of State recognised that some veterans were concerned that the link between their ill-health and their service in the Gulf had not been sufficiently acknowledged. The Tribunal's decision in Martin gave a formal means of providing such recognition and it was for that reason, not least, that the Ministry of Defence welcomed it”. The then veterans’ Minister, in his Written Statement of 24 November 2005 (Official Report, Commons, col. 129WS), hoped that this formal recognition would help to provide an element of closure for those who have sought this acknowledgement of their ill health. The extract from the 5 June letter was made in the context of the earlier ministerial Statement.

Moreover, in the spirit of helping to provide closure and acting in good faith, the Veterans’ Agency in its notification letters to Mr McGreevy went further than required by including previously accepted conditions, which were linked to his Gulf service, under the umbrella term of Gulf War syndrome. While the 5 June letter accepts that this was done in error, it nevertheless indicates the Ministry of Defence’s willingness to assist in the closure process.