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7 Nov 2002 : Column 463Wcontinued
Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of financial support from the New Zealand Government for the nuclear test veterans of that country to support research into the health impact of UK nuclear tests. 
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Mr. Ingram: The Ministry of Defence has made no assessment of financial support provided by the New Zealand Government to New Zealand test veterans to support research into the health impact of British nuclear tests. Such funding is a matter for the New Zealand Government.
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) parliamentary questions and (b) letters to him from hon. Members in this Session remain unanswered, broken down by those which are (i) one month old, (ii) two months old, (iii) three months old, (iv) four months old and (v) over six months old. 
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Mr. Hoon: I last met my French counterpart on 4 October when we discussed a number of issues including the A400M programme. We agreed on the importance of that programme and the need to launch it as soon as possible.
(3) when he last met the Defence Minister of Germany to discuss the A440M programme; and if he will make a statement; 
(4) what the minimum number is of A400M aircraft that Germany must order, for the UK to continue supporting the A400M programme; and how long he is prepared to wait for the minimum number of German orders. 
Mr. Hoon: I had a meeting with my German counterpart on 5 November when we discussed a range of defence topics, including the A400M programme. We both recognised the importance of the A400M programme and the need to launch it as soon as possible.
The German government has made no final decision on whether it will need to change its previously stated requirement for 73 aircraft. It would therefore be premature to speculate on the impact of a reduced German order on the cost of the programme.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if she will make a statement on what progress is being made on the delivery of the A400M; and what discussions she has had with the German Government to discuss the contractual situation. 
Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his statement in the debate on defence in the world on 17 October 2062, Official Report, columns 50304W, how he plans to facilitate (a) public and (b) parliamentary discussion of ballistic missile defence and the future uses of RAF Fylingdales. 
Mr. Hoon: As I said in the debate on 17 October, I intend to make available to Parliament and the public in the coming months some analytical and discussion material. We will be ready to discuss the issues in Parliament at the appropriate time.
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Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many requests by service personnel for access to their medical records there have been since the Gulf War; and if he will make a statement; 
Mr. Ingram MP: A non-Ministry of Defence funded study published in September 2000 showed that when compared to a control group of some selected civilians who were well, self-selected ill United Kingdom Gulf veterans had: (a) a lower concentration of paraoxonase and (b) its activity was less than 50 per cent. of that found in the control group. The level of paraoxonase found showed little variation among the Gulf veterans studied and no link to the severity of symptoms or to genetic composition was identified. The Ministry of Defence has since part-funded a study to confirm, or otherwise, the earlier findings which includes United Kingdom Gulf veterans, Bosnia veterans and non-deployed veterans. The study is complete and it is expected that the results will be published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.
Mr. Ingram: Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS) is a non-invasive radiological technique. It measures intracellular concentrations of specific abundant chemicals in small areas of the brain and is used to examine brain activity patterns and to identify very localised areas of damage within the brain.
MRS has not been used in Gulf veterans' illnesses research funded by the Ministry of Defence. Some patients who attended the Gulf Veterans' Medical Assessment Programme have been referred to specialist neurologists who may have used this procedure. Gulf veterans also may have had MRS scans during investigations carried out during their health care under the National Health Service or Defence Medical Services.
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Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the rate of death of (a) UK Gulf War veterans and (b) other members of the public by motor vehicle accidents was in each year since 1992. 
Dr. Moonie: The mortality rates per 10,000 personnel to Gulf veterans due to motor vehicle accidents during the ten-year period 19922001 are given below. For comparison purposes the data for a similar sized cohort randomly sampled from United Kingdom armed forces personnel in Service on 1 January 1991 who were not deployed to the Gulf, stratified according to age, gender, Service, Officer status, regular/reservist status and a proxy marker for fitness are also given. Data from the Office for National Statistics for the general population of England and Wales with the same age and gender profile, taking into account the ageing of the Gulf cohort, is also provided.
|Year||Gulf||Era||England and Wales|
A number of possible explanations have been put forward to explain the excess mortality rate above for Gulf veterans. These include that the veterans may have had some sort of neurological impairment caused by an exposure in the Gulf, that their perception of risk may have been altered by the experience of conflict or that this may have been a disguised form of suicide. We are discussing with the scientific community how best to conduct an analysis of the factors underlying the figures.
Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many members of the armed forces have retired from their employment on medical grounds in each year since their service in the Gulf war; and what the average annual rate of medical retirements has been in the last 10 years. 
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