MP vows settlement for nuclear test veterans and their families

The kind of nuclear test the vets were exposed to.
The kind of nuclear test the vets were exposed to.
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A New Year vow has been made to a British Nuclear Test Veteran in South Holland.

It is a vow that 2015 will finally see justice for the families and descendants he has spent a lifetime fighting for.

MP John Hayes broke the news to the Spalding Guardian that a “fair and reasonable settlement which can be administered in a straightforward manner” will be made “within this government’s term of office” before the General Election in May.

Veteran Douglas Hern (77), of Moulton, has been campaigning on behalf of the British Nuclear Test Veterans’ Association (BNTVA) for a single non-liability payment of £25million into a benevolent fund for veterans and their descendants.

Britain’s nuclear programme, conducted in the vast Pacific Ocean, began in 1952 and lasted for over a decade. More than 20,000 servicemen witnessed – up close and many without specialist protective clothing – explosions they would never forget.

Some 18,000 to 19,000 of the servicemen died from illnesses like cancer as a result.

Cancer – and other disorders like heart problems and Spina Bifida – still plague their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Mr Hern, who witnessed five tests on Christmas Island, has been fighting for justice ever since.

This week he was speechless when the Spalding Guardian passed on the news.

He said: “Progress continues to be made and the BNTVA hopes Mr Cameron and his government will be able to offer a resolution in 2015 and welcomes any news that this is so.

“I would like to thank John Hayes MP and John Baron MP for their continued support.”

Mr Hayes offered added reassurance by stressing Prime Minister David Cameron has a proud record of honouring our veterans; changing the rules so that war widows will no longer lose their pension if they remarry, and fully recognising and decorating those who served on the Arctic Convoys and Bomber Command.

Earlier this year he formally recognised the contribution of the service personnel who participated in the testing programme, and expressed his gratitude for their selfless support in the development of the nuclear deterrent which has kept our nation safe.

Mr Cameron has told Parliament he was determined to seek a resolution to this issue, but has been held up by the Ministry of Defence’s reluctance to set a precedent with regards to other claims and concerns about testing the validity of claims.

My Hayes said: “This should have been settled years ago and, as Mr Hern’s constituency MP, I have followed his campaign closely.

“We have taken it to the highest level of government and it will be dealt with.”