asked Her Majesty's Government:
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Sainsbury of Turville on 16 October (WA 174), what proportion of the £20,000 to £25,000 spent by the Medical Research Council on reviews of research into Gulf War illnesses was spent on, or in connection with, the one-day meeting held in London on 27 January 2003; and [HL110]
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Sainsbury of Turville on 16 October (WA 174), which individuals represented the Royal British Legion and the Gulf War Veterans and Families Association at the meeting on 27 January 2003 arranged by the Medical Research Council; and whether the organisers considered inviting Professor Malcolm Hooper and Dr Norman Jones to assist with the review of relevant research into Gulf War illnesses. [HL111]
The information requested falls within the responsibilities of the Medical Research Council. Professor Blakemore, the chief executive of the MRC, has written to me regarding this matter. An extract from his letter is given below.
“In 2003, the MRC, through our Military Health Research Advisory Group (MHRAG), conducted a comprehensive review of relevant research into Gulf Veterans’ illness. As Lord Sainsbury outlined in a written answer to the Countess of Mar on 30 October 2006, the review involved a one-day closed scientific meeting between the MHRAG and a number of scientists from the UK and overseas. This was followed on the next day by a separate private meeting of the MHRAG to apprise the MRC of scientific progress, of the potential for gaining further knowledge and of research needs, and of what the likely medical issues might be. As reported by Lord Sainsbury, in a written answer to a question from Lord Morris of Manchester, we estimated the cost of the review to be between £20,000 and £25,000. This estimate related to the closed scientific meeting, the MHRAG meeting the following day, and the publication of the report.
We of course publish the memberships of our Council and standing advisory Boards/Committees; and the membership of the MHRAG is recorded in the published review. However, it is not the MRC's practice to release into the public domain the names of individuals who either attended, or who may, or may not, have been considered as participants, in closed ad-hoc scientific meetings. If we felt there was a particular reason to make names public, we would make that clear in the letters of invitation. In the case of this scientific meeting, we did not do that. For what I hope are obvious reasons, we would never make public the names of individuals whom we had considered inviting to join a particular committee or meeting, but whom we subsequently decided not to invite. I am therefore not in a position to respond to the Countess of Mar's second question”.
asked Her Majesty's Government:
When the Medical Research Council reached the recently reported view that further research into Gulf War illness may not be worthwhile; and on what date and in what form this view was explained to veterans from the 1991 Gulf War who are suffering medically unexplained illnesses and bereaved families of Gulf War veterans. [HL332]
The information requested falls within the responsibilities of the Medical Research Council. Professor Blakemore, the chief executive of MRC, has written to me regarding this matter. An extract from the letter is enclosed.
“As you are aware, the MRC, through our Military Health Research Advisory Group (MHRAG), last conducted a comprehensive review of relevant Gulf research in 2003. The MRC has not changed its view from that presented in the published report the ‘MRC review of research into UK Gulf veterans' illnesses', and never stated that ‘further research into Gulf War Illness may not be worthwhile’.
I believe that this question may have resulted from an error in the minutes of a meeting of the Royal British Legion's (RBL) Gulf War Group on 5 September 2006. At the meeting, I understand that Ministry of Defence (MoD) officials reminded the Group of the MHRAG's 2003 findings that;
‘Further studies to characterise symptoms and illnesses of UK GVs based on self-reported exposures are not necessary and epidemiological studies of existing data are unlikely to lead to greater understanding’; and that
‘Further research aimed at improving the long-term health of GVs with persistent symptoms should take priority’.
The discussion of this issue was mis-recorded in the RBL minutes as ‘ ... further research into the causes of Gulf War illnesses was probably not worthwhile’. I understand that the MoD has informed the RBL of the error.”