Gulf War Syndrome

Ministry of Defence written question – answered on 25th May 2022.

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Photo of Stephanie Peacock Stephanie Peacock Shadow Minister (Defence)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, if he will make an assessment of the implications for his policies of the conclusions of the paper by Robert W. Haley et al. entitled Evaluation of a gene-environment interaction of PON1 and low-level nerve agent exposure with Gulf War illness, published on 11 May 2022.

Photo of Stephanie Peacock Stephanie Peacock Shadow Minister (Defence)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what data his Department holds on the number of British Armed Forces personnel exposed to sarin gas during the Gulf War.

Photo of Stephanie Peacock Stephanie Peacock Shadow Minister (Defence)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what data his Department holds on the number of UK Armed Forces veterans with symptoms of Gulf War Illness.

Photo of Stephanie Peacock Stephanie Peacock Shadow Minister (Defence)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what support is available for people suffering from Gulf War Illness.

Photo of Stephanie Peacock Stephanie Peacock Shadow Minister (Defence)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what data his Department (a) holds and (b) plans to collect on the (i) causes of and (ii) treatments for Gulf War Illness.

Photo of Stephanie Peacock Stephanie Peacock Shadow Minister (Defence)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of an inquiry into Gulf War Illness.

Photo of Leo Docherty Leo Docherty Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence)

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) continues to monitor and welcome any new research on Gulf War issues that is published around the world. New research will be considered carefully, and a determination made to assesses if our current policies and compensation arrangements remain appropriate. The majority of information held by the MOD concerning the 1990/91 Gulf conflict, now being some thirty years ago, has long since been transferred to the National Archives: https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/ukgwa/20050328202002/http://www.mod.uk/issues/gulfwar/index.html

What data MOD does still hold is primarily limited to War Pensions data on veterans’ symptoms/conditions and veterans who were awarded compensation for those conditions. Help and support is available for any veteran who requests it through a variety of sources, including the Veterans Welfare Service, the Veterans Gateway, and Veterans UK. Gulf War veterans who believe they have suffered ill health due to service have the right to apply for no-fault compensation under the War Pensions Scheme. War Pensions are payable in respect of illness or injury as a result of service in the Armed Forces before 6 April 2005, with the benefit of reasonable doubt always given to the claimant. Decisions are medically certified and follow consideration of available service and medical evidence, contemporary medical understanding of the causes of claimed disorders, and the relevant standard of proof. The decisions carry full rights of appeal to an independent Tribunal. All Gulf veterans who are ill receive appropriate medical care from the NHS and will receive priority treatment, subject to clinical need, in England, Scotland, and Wales if their condition is as a result of their military service.

Contemporary medical and scientific understanding from the mid-1990s onwards has identified no distinct disease process or pathology underlying Gulf symptoms and illness. In line with the Medical Research Council (MRC) review of 2003, which recommended no further research on possible causation of Gulf illness, the MOD has no plans to institute further research into Gulf conflict related illnesses nor to hold an inquiry. The UK Government's strategy on research topics and studies into the health of Gulf War veterans has been informed and overseen by independent scientific experts nominated by the MRC, taking account of published peer-reviewed international literature and international studies.

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