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.
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.
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?
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.