Previous Section Index Home Page

9 Feb 2006 : Column 1402W—continued

Disability (Armed Forces)

Mrs. Dorries: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps the Government are taking to
 
9 Feb 2006 : Column 1403W
 
support (a) former and (b) current members of the armed forces who are disabled; and if he will make a statement. [49142]

Mr. Touhig: The policies and procedures of the armed forces aim to avoid unnecessary threats to health; to provide the treatment and rehabilitation to ensure personnel can return, where possible, to normal service duties; or, where medical retirement becomes necessary, to provide proper resettlement and after-care services.

Personnel who become disabled but who are still able to contribute usefully to operational capacity, may be retained. Those who have to be medically retired are provided with advice on pay, allowances and pension compensation entitlements, housing and financial matters before returning to civilian life, including, if appropriate, resettlement advice and information to assist them to prepare for, and find, suitable employment.

The Veterans Agency provides a single point of contact within the MOD for veterans and their dependants seeking help and advice on a range of issues including health, housing, employment and financial matters. The War Pensioners' Welfare Service, a nationwide network administered by the Veterans Agency, provides help and advice on a wide range of welfare needs.

Early Retirement

David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many departmental employees have taken early retirement due to ill health in each of the past five years for which figures are available. [46749]

Mr. Touhig: The following table gives details of the number of Ministry of Defence civilian employees that took early retirement due to ill health in each of the financial years 2000–01 to 2004–05.
Headcount
2000–01500
2001–02440
2002–03365
2003–04290
2004–05250



Note:
This table used the revised definition of civilian personnel (www.dasa.mod.uk), but excludes Royal Fleet Auxiliary and Locally Engaged Civilian staff for whom no information on civilian ill health retirements is available.


Gulf War

Mrs. Dorries: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many individuals from the British armed forces served in the first Gulf war; and if he will make a statement. [49543]

Mr. Ingram: During the period of the first Gulf conflict, between 1 September 1990 and 30 June 1991, 53,462 UK armed forces personnel were deployed to the Gulf region.

Mrs. Dorries: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans the Government have to conduct research into Gulf war syndrome; and if he will make a statement. [49545]


 
9 Feb 2006 : Column 1404W
 

Mr. Touhig: It has been a key principle of this Government's approach to the health concerns of veterans of the 1990–91 Gulf conflict that there should be appropriate research into veterans' illnesses and into the factors that may have a bearing on them. Research already sponsored by the Ministry of Defence includes: epidemiological studies; clinical and laboratory tests; a programme of investigation into the possible adverse health effects of the medical countermeasures offered to troops; a systematic review of research literature; and a study of the social aspects of the issue. Most of this work has been completed and published. We have also maintained close contact with the US authorities to ensure visibility and understanding of the extensive programme of research that they have commissioned. The research has shown no evidence of a unique illness associated with service in the Gulf, nor has it identified a specific cause of the illnesses in question.

Independent advice on the direction of this research is provided by the Medical Research Council. The Ministry of Defence is currently considering with the council potential additional studies aimed at improving the long-term health of veterans with persistent symptoms and also of an enzyme involved in metabolising organophosphates. Announcements will be made in due course regarding the outcome of these considerations.

Gurkha Recruitment

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what effect developments in Nepal have had on Gurkha recruitment over the past 12 months. [49684]

Mr. Touhig: The Ministry of Defence's ability to recruit Gurkhas over the past 12 months has not been diminished. In the most recent recruitment exercise some 15,000 applicants for selection competed for 230 available places. We have however adjusted and streamlined our recruitment process in recent years, partly in response to the situation in Nepal.

Iraq

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proportion of (a) soldiers in the Army and (b) soldiers serving in Iraq have been diagnosed with a mental health condition. [48780]

Mr. Touhig: Between January 2003 and September 2005 inclusive, 1,333 United Kingdom service personnel who had served in Iraq were subsequently assessed as suffering from a mental health disorder,. This represents less than 1.5 per cent. of total UK service personnel deployed to the region during the same period. Of those 1,333 personnel, 182 were assessed as suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Figures are not held centrally on a tri-service or single service basis on the total number of service personnel who are suffering from any mental health condition and this could therefore be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Military Explosive Manufacturing

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the warheads carried by the United Kingdom's Trident nuclear deterrent will continue to contain high-explosives manufactured exclusively in the UK. [49650]


 
9 Feb 2006 : Column 1405W
 

John Reid: We have previously withheld and are continuing to withhold the information requested as it relates to national security.

Parkinson's Disease

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when (a) he and (b) Ministers in his Department last discussed possible links between Parkinson's disease and Gulf War illnesses with US counterparts. [49667]

Mr. Touhig: I am aware of research undertaken by Robert Haley at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre raising the possibility of a link between Gulf war illnesses and Parkinson's disease. Defence Ministers have not held any formal discussions with US counterparts about this research. Officials keep abreast of research published in the US through a British liaison officer who is based permanently in Washington DC. He is tasked with ensuring that the UK has full visibility of US research into Gulf health issues and with providing a channel for communicating our own work to interested US parties.

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what research projects related to possible links between Parkinson's disease and Gulf war illnesses are being undertaken by his Department; [49670]

(2) what funding his Department makes available towards research into possible links between Parkinson's disease and Gulf war illnesses in the US. [49671]

Mr. Touhig: It has been a key principle of this Government's approach to the health concerns of veterans of the 1990–91 Gulf conflict that there should be appropriate research into veterans' illnesses and into the factors that may have a bearing on them. Under the direction and guidance of the Medical Research Council, the Ministry of Defence has sponsored a broad programme of research. No research has been undertaken or sponsored by the United Kingdom Government into possible links between Parkinson's disease and the ill health reported by some Gulf veterans. However, we are aware of work undertaken in the United States suggesting the possibility of such a link and are following developments on this closely.

Parliamentary Questions

David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many parliamentary questions tabled in the last 12 months for answer by him on a named day (a) were transferred and (b) received a substantive answer (i) on the day named and (ii) after the day named; [49887]

(2) how many ordinary written parliamentary questions tabled for answer by him in the last 12 months have been answered (a) within 14 days, (b) between 14 and 28 days, (c) between 28 days and two months and (d) in excess of two months after the date of tabling; and if he will make a statement. [49906]


 
9 Feb 2006 : Column 1406W
 

Mr. Touhig: The information is not held in the format requested and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

During the period 1 February 2005 to 31 January 2006, the Ministry of Defence received 637 parliamentary questions for answer on a named day and 2,729 ordinary written parliamentary questions for answer.

Defence Ministers aim to ensure that Members receive a substantive response to their named day question on the named day and to endeavour to answer ordinary written questions within a working week of being tabled.

Unfortunately, this is not always possible but the Department makes every effort to achieve these timescales.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mike Penning) on 2 November 2005, Official Report, columns 1067–68W, in which I advised of our plans to introduce a new toolkit to better track and handle all parliamentary questions and correspondence later in the year; which should enable us to better monitor and report on our performance.


Next Section Index Home Page