On the 2nd July at 12:12 David Cameron made history as the first British Prime Minister to officially recognise the contribution of our British Nuclear Test Veterans. In response to a question from John Baron MP (BNTVA Patron) the PM paid tribute to the service of our men.
Mr John Baron (Basildon and Billericay) (Con):
One in three of our nuclear test veterans’ descendants has been born with a serious medical condition. Given that our cross-party campaign seeks recognition and not compensation, including an ex gratia payment by the Government into a charitable fund to help those in need, will the Prime Minister, following our last meeting in April, clear the logjam, recognise the veterans and finally resolve this shameful chapter in our nuclear history?
The Prime Minister:
First, I pay tribute to my hon. Friend, who has campaigned consistently on this issue in the House and outside it. He and I have discussed the matter. I am happy to tell the House that the Government recognise and are extremely grateful to all the service personnel who participated in the nuclear testing programme. We should be in no doubt that their selfless contribution helped to equip the UK with the deterrent that it needs. Following our meeting, I asked my officials to look again at the specific points and arguments that he made. I will come back to him as soon as possible.
Nige Heaps, BNTVA Chairman: “Cratus Communications worked with us to achieve our recognition campaign. From the outset they opened our eyes to the power of public relations, developing and enhancing our networking abilities.
In the last 12 months our campaign has advanced more than in the previous 20 years.”
Nick Kilby: “Jeff Liddiatt’s story of his time in Maralinga, then how he and his family have suffered from the effects of radiation was emotional and tragic at times to hear. Today he emailed me to tell me he had just watched the Prime Minister David Cameron give the long awaited recognition from the despatch box in response to John Baron MP’s question. Its not the end of the campaign but it was a very big day for the Veterans and their families and it was a good day for all of us at Cratus who have worked with Jeff, Nigel, Don, Doug and all their colleagues.
Tonight they will sleep well knowing a grateful nation has acknowledged them. I know today’s statement means the world to them. What they have gone through would never be tolerated today. Their loyalty to our nation is most humbling. I am pleased Jeff Liddiatt twisted my arm and that for 18 months we joined the BNTVA on their campaign for recognition. The next task is to set up the Benevolent fund!”