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Gulf War Veterans

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many meetings officials from the Gulf Veterans' Illnesses Unit have held with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs since 1 January, indicating the date and location of each meeting and the names of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs officials at each meeting. [93940]

Mr. Spellar: In the period 1 January 1999 to 15 October 1999, officials from the MOD's Gulf Veterans' Illnesses Unit met US Department of Veterans Affairs officials on the dates and at the locations shown in the table:

Location
21 JanuaryWashington DC
26 FebruaryWashington DC
2-4 MarchWashington DC
14 MayWashington DC
4-8 and 14 OctoberWashington DC and Baltimore MD

I am withholding the names of the US Department of Veterans Affairs officials who attended the meetings above in accordance with Exemption 1 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information (which relates to international relations) and Exemption 12 (which relates to privacy of an individual).

In addition to the above, a member of the Gulf Veterans Illnesses Unit (GVIU) based in Washington DC maintains continuous dialogue with United States Department of Veterans Affairs colleagues.

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what is the formal title of the agreement announced on 28 April by his Department between Britain and the United States of America to share information on Gulf veterans' illnesses research; what progress has so far been made under the agreement; how many working groups and committees will operate under this agreement; on what dates each of these working groups and committees so far have met; on what dates in 1999 each of these working groups and committees are scheduled to meet; which United States Government Departments and organisations are taking part in this agreement; and which other United Kingdom Departments and organisations will take part in the agreement; [93930]

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Mr. Spellar: The agreement announced on 28 April is to be formalised by extending the scope of the UK-US Master Information Exchange Memorandum of Understanding (MIEM). The new agreement is an Information Exchange Annex entitled: "UK-US Master Information Exchange Memorandum of Understanding Annex Concerning Persian Gulf Veterans Health Research". It is not envisaged that the agreement will lead to the formation of new working groups or committees. Work has been and will continue to be taken forward by arrangements already in place. The main participants will be the UK Ministry of Defence, the US Department of Defense, the US Department of Veterans Affairs and the US Department of Health and Human Services. Non-governmental research institutes, academic departments, other organisations and individuals will be involved as appropriate.

Prior to this agreement there were no formal agreements between the US and UK governments on Gulf veterans' illnesses. However, there has been a close history of co-operation between the two governments on Gulf veterans' illnesses matters.

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many meetings officials from the Ministry of Defence's Gulf Veterans' Illnesses Unit have held with the United States Department of Defense since 1 January, indicating the date and location of each meeting and the names of the United States Department of Defense officials at each meeting. [93941]

Mr. Spellar: In the period 1 January 1999 to 15 October 1999, officials from the MOD's Gulf Veterans' Illnesses Unit met US Department of Defense officials on the dates and at the locations shown in the table:

Date(s)Location
21 JanuaryWashington DC
26 FebruaryWashington DC
2-4 MarchWashington DC
29-30 MarchLondon
14 MayWashington DC
4-14 OctoberWashington DC and San Diego CA

I am withholding the names of the US Department of Defense officials who attended the meetings above in accordance with Exemption 1 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information (which relates to international relations) and Exemption 12 (which relates to privacy of an individual).

In addition to the above, a member of the Gulf Veterans Illnesses Unit (GVIU) based in Washington DC maintains continuous dialogue with United States Department of Defense colleagues.

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many United States (a) Government committees, (b) boards and (c) working groups relating to the issue of Gulf veterans' illnesses his Department's representatives have sat since 1 May 1997; and if he will list the official titles of each of these committees, boards and working groups and the United States Departments to which each committee, board and working group belongs. [93988]

25 Oct 1999 : Column: 699

Mr. Spellar: The information requested is provided in the following table:

Title of US Government committee, board or working groupUS Department representation
Persian Gulf Veterans Co-ordinating Board (PGVCB) Research Working Group, PGVCB Clinical Working Group and PGVCB Benefits Working GroupPGVCB is an inter-departmental board comprising Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Health and Human Service
The Center for Disease Control Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Conference Planning CommitteeDepartment of Health and Human Services
Planning Committee meeting for the Military Medicine Conference on Post-conflict Illnesses Department of Defense
Planning Committee Meeting for the Principal Investigators' ConferencePGVCB is an inter-departmental board comprising Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Health and Human Services
The Armed Forces Epidemiology BoardDepartment of Defense

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on which dates the Minister of State for the Armed Forces visited the United States of America this year to investigate Gulf veterans' illnesses research; how many meetings he held with members and officials of the United States Government during this visit; and if he will list the dates and locations of each meeting and the names and Departments of the United States members and officials at each meeting. [93990]

Mr. Spellar: On 26 February 1999, my predecessor as Minister of State for the Armed Forces, my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, North (Mr. Henderson) attended a meeting on Gulf veterans' illnesses with the Senior Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs who was assisted by senior briefing officials from various US Departments. The meeting was held in the Old Executive Office Building, Washington DC. My predecessor also met the Deputy Secretary of Defense on 1 March.

I am withholding the names of the US officials who attended the meetings above in accordance with Exemption 1 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information (which relates to international relations) and Exemption 12 (which relates to privacy of an individual).

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the co-operation between the Gulf Veterans' Medical Assessment Programme of his Department and the US Department of Defense's Comprehensive Clinical Evaluation Programme; how many meetings the two units have held since 1 January; and if he will indicate the dates and locations of each meeting. [93989]

Mr. Spellar: My Department's Gulf Veterans' Medical Assessment Programme was established in July 1993 to examine UK Gulf veterans who were concerned that their health had been adversely affected by service

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in the 1990-91 Gulf conflict. Although since 1 January officials from the Medical Assessment Programme have attended conferences at which representatives from the Comprehensive Clinical Evaluation Programme were present, there have been no formal meetings between representatives of the two organisations. The Head of the MOD's Gulf Veterans' Illnesses Unit attended a meeting at the Comprehensive Clinical Evaluation Programme, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington DC on 7 October 1999.

Air Force Board

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what dates the Air Force Board has met since 16 July 1998; and if he will place in the Library a list of items discussed at each of the meetings. [93885]

Mr. Kilfoyle: There have been two meetings of the Air Force Board since 16 July 1998. The first of these took place on 3 March 1999. The agenda consisted of a presentation by the Chief of the Air Staff on the RAF in 1999 and the key challenges facing the Service, and managing a forecast shortfall in pilots. The second meeting of the Air Force Board was held on 14 July 1999 and the only item on the Board's agenda was the officer branch structure review.


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