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Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow) (Lab): It is fortunate that the Minister on the Front Bench should be the Under-Secretary responsible for the one topic that I wish to raise: Gulf war syndrome. I should like to acknowledge the work that has been done on this subject by Lord Lloyd of Berwick, whom I have known for 60 years. He was a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary from 1984 to 1993, and Chairman of the Security Commission from 1992 to 1999. I also acknowledge the work of Lord Morris of Manchester, who, as Alf Morris, was my close friend and mentor in all matters relating to the disabled for a third of a century.

Frankly, I am not a newcomer or a Johnny-come-lately to this subject. On 2 May 1995, I asked the Secretary of State for Defence what concrete evidence he had of Gulf war syndrome. This reply was given by Roger Freeman:

Subsequently, some of us went on a delegation to him. I have to say that he was a listening Minister and I believe that he did his best. On many occasions, and particularly on 18 June 1996, Alf Morris followed the matter up with Nicholas Soames, who told him:

I fear that that is not the view of many of the people affected.

On 20 December, the Under-Secretary wrote to me:

That is outrageous. Ministers say that the Lloyd report produced no new scientific evidence, but why should Lord Lloyd be required to produce new scientific evidence when it is already there? Is the work of Simon Wessely on the Gulf war health effects and that of lady Professors Doyle and Cherry—world experts in this
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matter—to be viewed as worthless? Is it being denied that soldiers and civilian personnel who went to Iraq are twice as likely to have symptoms as those who did not?

The brutal truth is that many people have become ill over the past 15 years precisely because they did go to Iraq. Are the ill veterans satisfied with the way in which they have been treated by the MOD since their return from the Gulf? No, they are not. They feel let down and rejected. Those are not my words, but that is how they feel—let down and rejected. I am using the words of Lord Craig, the general officer commanding at the time of the Gulf war and, indeed, a member of the war Cabinet. Those words were echoed by Lord Bramall.

Lloyd set out some of the reasons behind those feelings. He quoted extensively from the relevant reports of the House of Commons Defence Committee. In relation to the MOD's delay in commissioning epidemiological research, the report states:

In relation to the organophosphate pesticide saga, the report highlighted

Indeed, I fear that torpor is not an unfair description because on 17 January, I asked the Secretary of State

The answer was:

That was curt and rather rude. I am not pompous about being Father the House of Commons, but the Ministry of Defence might have provided a more decent answer to a parliamentary colleague.

Why has the United States evidence from Texas been ignored? Why has not the work of Professor Robert Haley of the Research Advisory Committee, including paragraphs 430 to 444 of his medical appendix, been taken into account? The paper contains the combined expertise of US experts. The US has been far better on the matter than the British Ministry of Defence. I do not know why the issue has been dismissed here.

The recommendations of the Lloyd report should be taken seriously. First,



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There are further claims from the National Gulf Veterans and Families Association.

Mr. Caplin: My hon. Friend will recall that, at Defence Question Time shortly after the publication of that report—I think it was 29 November—I announced that we would examine the 272 cases. In fact, 100 or 110 cases need review. That work is happening now at the Veterans Agency.

Mr. Dalyell: Yes, but what is the time scale? To put it bluntly, such action has been greatly delayed. It has taken years. My hon. Friend will forgive us for being extremely angry about it. The Under-Secretary is dealing with people such as Lord Morris, Lord Lloyd, Lord Craig and Lord Bramall, and I simply do not understand why the British Ministry of Defence has been so tardy.

Last night, I spoke again to Dr. Graveston of the National Gulf Veterans and Families Association. He says:


He also said that there should be


As a Labour Member of Parliament, who has been here for a long time, I am ashamed of the seven years of Conservative lack of action but even more ashamed of seven years' inaction by a Labour Government.

4.4 pm

Mr. John Greenway (Ryedale) (Con): My hon. Friend the Member for Gosport (Mr. Viggers) spoke earlier about the treatment of prisoners of war. I want to make two comments about that, and I hope that they do not infringe the correct ruling given earlier by Mr. Speaker.

I hope that, over time, the wider world will accept that the humanitarian relief extended to the shattered communities devastated by the recent tsunami in the Indian ocean, and the work being done to help rebuild them, will be regarded as more typical of the conduct and professionalism of the British soldier than the alleged abuse of prisoners in Iraq, about which we all feel such shame. I have some personal experience of the treatment of people in custody, which I gained all those years ago during my police career. I shudder to think that this year it is 40 years since I joined the force.

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