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Service Medal Awards

Volume 691: debated on Monday 15 March 2021

On what basis the Advisory Military Sub-Committee decided not to recommend service medal awards to British nuclear test veterans. (913338)

The review by the independent Advisory Military Sub-Committee into medallic recognition for those who participated in the UK’s nuclear test programme concluded that it did not meet the level of risk and rigour required for the reward of a campaigning medal or class. That independent process operates to strict criteria, and the outcome in no way diminishes the contribution of veterans. The Government remain grateful to all who participated.

Our nuclear test veterans were sent to the south Pacific in the 1950s at great risk to themselves. They have heard decades of warm rhetoric about their crucial role in the country’s defence during the cold war and beyond, but they lack formal recognition. Recently, a constituent wrote to me:

“My dad was a veteran who was present at two of the grapple tests on Christmas Island in the 1950s. Sadly, my dad is no longer with us and never got round to seeing the Government award a medal or compensation to the veterans.”

Does the Minister share my concern that no more nuclear test veterans such as my constituent’s father should pass away with their contribution left unrecognised?

Their contributions are not unrecognised. We work hard to ensure a programme of support for those who have become ill as a result of their exposure to nuclear tests. This is a consistent process that we are always refining, and the review I undertook eight months ago tightened up that support. The medallic system is outwith the control of Ministers and always has been. It is rightly in that position, but I am determined to continue to do all I can to support this cohort of nuclear test veterans.