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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): We have not made any specific representations to the Chilean or Argentinian Governments over the environmental impact of proposed new gold-mining projects in these countries. We do, however, have a strong and ongoing dialogue with both the Governments on environmental issues, which includes regular contact with local mining authorities.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Drayson): Veterans of the 199091 Gulf conflict and of the current Iraq deployment (Operation TELIC) who believe their health has suffered as a result of their service in the Gulf may seek a referral to the Medical Assessment Programme (MAP). Those concerned should seek a referral having first seen their service medical officer if still serving or general practitioner if ex-service. The MAP is an independent programme: medical confidentiality is observed and all patients are
22 Jun 2006 : Column WA99
extensively investigated even if not clinically indicated. As at 1 June 2006, 3,286 veterans of the 199091 Gulf conflict and 34 of the current operation in the Gulf had been seen by MAP physicians.
What information they have on the range, scope and cost of research into Gulf War illnesses funded by the Government of the United States; what comparable research they have funded; and how much has been spent under each research project. [HL6267]
Lord Drayson: The UK Government take a close interest in the research commissioned by the US authorities into Gulf veterans' illnesses as part of their broader concern to understand and respond to illness among UK veterans of the 199091 Gulf conflict. Information on this research is published in an annual report to Congress: Federally Sponsored Research on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses. The department has a British liaison officer based permanently in Washington DC tasked both with ensuring that the UK has full visibility of US research into GVI issues and with providing a channel for communicating our own work to interested US parties.
The UK Government are guided on their programme of research into Gulf veterans' illnesses by the Medical Research Council. The cost of this programme is some £8.5 million. Individual projects with costs (rounded and VAT exclusive) are:
|Anthropological study into "Gulf War syndrome"||£25,000|
|Longitudinal study of changing health in Gulf veterans||£165,000|
|Mortality/morbidity linkages study||£10,000|
|Neuromuscular symptoms in Gulf veterans||£325,000|
|Reproductive Health study||£1.2 million|
|Systematic literature review of published research||£85,000|
|Testing for squalene in vaccines||£10,000|
|Vaccines Interactions Research Programme||£4.55 million|
We have also co-operated with epidemiological and clinical studies of UK veterans sponsored by the US Department of Defense; research papers on the health of those veterans attending the Gulf Veterans' Medical Assessment Programme have been published; and there have been various charges to support and manage the research programme. The costs for these are not separately identifiable.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Drayson): The Ministry of Defence has well established welfare support systems which are available to those 199091 Gulf veterans and their families who are still serving and for those who have left the services. Appropriate medical treatment is provided and financial support is available through pensions and no-fault compensation arrangements (including widows' benefits and children's allowances). Practical help is available from the service welfare organisations and Veterans Agency welfare service. We are committed to funding appropriate scientific research with the aim of improving the long-term health of veterans with persistent symptoms.
On 22 March 2006 (Official Report, col. WS 33) we announced the results of our review of our strategy for veterans. The revised strategy document sets out our approach to veterans' issues and what we aim to achieve through the veterans programme. A copy of the strategy has been placed in the Library of the House and it can also be found at: www.veteransagency.mod.uk/vetstrategy/vetstrategy.pdf.
Whether they will respond to the finding of the Pensions Appeal Tribunal of 31 October 2005 in the case of Gulf War veteran lifeguard Daniel Martin that it is "highly regrettable that there was such a delay in the Ministry of Defence" linking Gulf War illnesses to a conflict-related syndrome, Gulf War syndrome, as recommended in the Lloyd report. [HL6339]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Drayson): The principal issue raised by veterans claiming Gulf War syndrome before the Daniel Martin decision was that it should be recognised as a discrete medical condition. There was, and remains, no scientific basis for doing this, and this was confirmed by the Pensions Appeal Tribunal decision of 31 October 2005. We have recognised the need to bring an element of closure for those who have sought some acknowledgement that their ill health is connected to their Gulf service. For this reason we welcomed the tribunal's decision that Gulf War syndrome should be used as an umbrella term covering any recognised medical condition caused by service and connected to service in the 199091 Gulf War. We have repeatedly made clear that the application of the umbrella term does not, in itself, affect the amount of an award, as compensation is already paid to veterans based on their level of disablement due to service in the Armed Forces, regardless of where it was caused.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): Asylum claims from all nationalities, including those from Sudan, are considered on a case-by-case basis. We fully recognise that the conditions in Sudan are such that there are individuals who are able to demonstrate a need for international protection. We do not however consider that each and every Sudanese national who applies for asylum is in need of international protection.
Individual Sudanese claimants who have been found by both the Home Office and the independent appeals process not to be in need of international protection are expected to return to Sudan voluntarily. Those who do not avail themselves of the opportunity to return voluntarily may have their return enforced. We would of course not seek to remove any Sudanese national who has been found to be in need of international protection.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Asylum claims from all nationalities are considered on a case-by-case basis. We fully recognise that the political and human rights situation in many countries are such that there are individuals who are able to demonstrate a need for international protection. We do not however consider that each and every national from a country with a poor political and/or human rights record who applies for asylum is in need of international protection.
Individual claimants who have been found by both the Home Office and the independent appeals process not to be in need of international protection are expected to return to their country of origin voluntarily. Those who do not avail themselves of the opportunity to return voluntarily may have their return enforced. We would of course not seek to remove nationals of any countries who have been found to be in need of international protection.
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