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Gulf War Illnesses

Volume 688: debated on Monday 8 January 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What specific benefits British veterans of the 1990–91 Gulf War have derived from their monitoring and that of the Medical Research Council of federally funded and other research in the United States into Gulf War illnesses; and from which projects and on what dates such benefits were derived. [HL691]

The extensive US research findings have provided reassurance to UK 1990-91 Gulf veterans by broadly confirming the conclusions of the UK programme. Veterans of the 1990-91 Gulf conflict from the different coalition countries demonstrate similar findings regardless of their Gulf experience. Gulf veterans consistently report more symptoms than those not deployed to the Gulf. Symptoms are similar despite very different exposures to vaccination, nerve agent pre-treatment, smoke from oil fires and other possible hazards. In addition they are not accompanied by consistent physical signs or laboratory abnormalities nor has research to date identified specific causal factors. US and other international research provides no evidence of a unique disease due to service in the Gulf.

Benefits were made clear from a review of published research into Gulf veterans' illnesses undertaken by a team led by Professor Glyn Lewis of the University of Bristol. Three of the reports resulting from this work have already been made publicly available and the remaining three will be published shortly. We will continue to monitor US research for the future on the same basis.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Why Wing Commander Dr Derek Hall was informed, in three recent communications from the Veterans Agency and Ministry of Defence, that Gulf War syndrome does not exist; and whether any corrective action has now been taken. [HL753]

It would be inappropriate to comment on the particulars of an individual's case particularly when they are subject to appeal but we can confirm that Dr Hall lodged a number of appeals with the Pension Appeals Tribunal (PAT) between 28 April 2005 and 26 April 2006, which have yet to be heard. In October 2006 a new statement of case was issued in support of one of these appeals, and replacement statements of cases were issued in respect of the others. This was necessary to ensure that each statement of case includes all of the available evidence including the substantial evidence provided by Dr Hall.

In general terms the MoD welcomed the decision in October 2005 by the PAT in the case brought by Mr Martin which accepted the use of the umbrella term Gulf War syndrome for those conditions which are causally linked to service in the 1990-91 Gulf War.

The tribunal's decision in the Martin appeal was equally helpful in reaching the clear conclusion that Gulf War syndrome does not exist as a discrete pathological entity. This remains the position, and any communications reflecting this are correct.