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Nuclear Weapons: Testing

Question for Ministry of Defence

UIN 185394, tabled on 21 April 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what (a) health measures and (b) radiobiological monitoring did the Government introduce after the British Nuclear Test Programme ended in 1991 for (i) all service personnel involved in the operations, (ii) all indigenous peoples living near or on the test sites during or after the time of operations, (iii) any others locally present during operations or now living near the test sites.

Answered on

27 April 2021

The UK atmospheric nuclear test programme experimented on weapons not Service personnel; the health of all those involved was a vital consideration, as shown by the detailed documented safety measures and radiobiological monitoring that took place during experiments. The Service personnel who took part were not subject to ongoing routine health measures or radiobiological monitoring after the programme ended. To date, any published peer-reviewed research has found no evidence of a general excess of illness or mortality among nuclear test veterans as a group that could be linked to their participation in the tests. Any nuclear test veterans who believe they have suffered ill health due to service, have the right to apply for no-fault compensation under the War Pensions Scheme.

In 1968, the UK and Australia signed an agreement confirming that the clean-up of all test sites had been completed satisfactorily. As announced to the House on 10 December 1993, (Official Report, column 421), the Government agreed to make an ex gratia payment of £20 million to the Federal Government of Australia as part of a full and final settlement of the UK Government’s liability for any claims resulting from the British test programme. A copy of the note giving effect to this agreement was placed in the Library of the House. The note also records that the Government of Australia indemnified the Government of the UK against claims from Australian nationals or residents. The Government now regards the matter as closed.