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Gulf War Illnesses

Volume 706: debated on Tuesday 13 January 2009

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Answer by Lord Tunnicliffe on 9 December (Official Report, House of Lords, col. 257), whether the question of poisoning by organophosphates or related compounds was addressed in the 2003 Medical Research Council review of Gulf research; and whether any comparable review has been conducted in the past five years. [HL287]

In 2003 the Medical Research Council (MRC) asked the Military Health Research Advisory Group (MHRAG) to undertake a comprehensive review of relevant Gulf research. The review made a number of recommendations on where future research might focus and provided additional advice to the Ministry of Defence. Organophosphates were one of the topics addressed and full details of the findings can be found in the published review. The MRC has not conducted subsequent co-ordinated strategic reviews on research into Gulf Veterans' illnesses.

Exposure to organophosphate pesticides during the 1990-91 Gulf conflict is of concern to some veterans and the Ministry of Defence continues to monitor ongoing research in this area through its membership of the Official Group on Organophosphates, chaired by Defra.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Answer by Lord Tunnicliffe on 9 December (Official Report, House of Lords, col. 258), why it is necessary to review and peer-review the Department of Veterans' Affairs' findings on Gulf War Illness and the Health of Gulf War Veterans when the report contains 68 pages with 1,840 references in peer-reviewed journals. [HL288]

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Answer by Lord Tunnicliffe on 9 December (Official Report, House of Lords, col. 258), which body will be responsible for the peer-review of the Department of Veterans' Affairs' findings on Gulf War illness and the health of Gulf War veterans; and what will be the expertise of the members of that body. [HL290]

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Answer by Lord Tunnicliffe on 9 December (Official Report, House of Lords, col. 258), what expert advice the Ministry of Defence has received since the publication of the United States Research Advisory Committee on Gulf Veterans' Illness in November 2008 to substantiate the statement that the Ministry of Defence does not accept any conclusions of the report; and from whom that advice was received. [HL291]

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Answer by Lord Tunnicliffe on 9 December (Official Report, House of Lords, col. 259), what were the “slow-to-develop situations” to which the Answer referred. [HL292]

It is standard practice to peer-review all new scientific findings. Although the US Research Advisory Committee report is a review of published research it has come to its own conclusions vis-à-vis this research. The US Department of Veterans Affairs has therefore decided to ask the Institute of Medicine to review the report. Appointment of experts is a matter for the institute. We will await the outcome of this process before making any comments on the report.

Lord Tunnicliffe was referring to the complex medical and scientific issues relating to Gulf veterans' illnesses and the differing scientific views on this matter that are still formulating some 17 years after the end of the 1990-91 Gulf conflict.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will place in the Library of the House of Lords copies of reports that provide evidence that they are monitoring the United States research into Gulf War illnesses. [HL289]

The Ministry of Defence has asked its liaison officer based in Washington to provide a report on the research undertaken in the US. This will be produced every six months and be made available on the MoD website. The reports will also be sent to the Royal British Legion Gulf War Group.