Nuclear Test Veterans

Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 18th April 1991.

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Photo of Mr Terence Higgins Mr Terence Higgins , Worthing 12:00 am, 18th April 1991

To ask the Prime Minister, further to his answer to the right hon. Member for Worthing on 4 December 1990, Official Report, column 170, when he intends to complete his consideration of the case for compensation for British nuclear tests veterans and their widows; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr John Major Mr John Major , Huntingdon

An independent study is currently being conducted. The Government's position is that they are ready to pay compensation if there is firm evidence that participation in the United Kingdom's nuclear test programme caused the cancer.

Photo of Mr Terence Higgins Mr Terence Higgins , Worthing

The Prime Minister will recall that in answer to a previous question he gave a sympathetic and urgent reply in response to the plight of haemophiliacs. This case is clearly more complex, although in many respects it is even more deserving. Hon. Members who, at their surgeries and interview evenings, see constituents suffering from appalling cancers who were given no protection from the atomic tests in the south Pacific, believe that action is long overdue and that compensation should be paid urgently. Will my right hon. Friend proceed with his inquiry with the greatest possible speed?

Photo of Mr John Major Mr John Major , Huntingdon

I assure my right hon. Friend that we shall proceed in that fashion and try to ensure minimum delay. The practical problem is the limited number of appropriate medical experts. Nevertheless, I shall do what I can to ensure that the report is produced as speedily as possible.

Photo of Mr Stan Orme Mr Stan Orme , Salford East

If the Cabinet agreed this morning on the poll tax provision —

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. I am afraid that this is a definitive question.

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

I do not think that it would be right to have a second bite at it. The question before the House is about nuclear tests. Perhaps we had better move on.