Labour Promises British Nuclear Test Veterans £50k Each In Compensation

Labour says all surviving former personnel of tests will receive a lump-sum £50,000 in compensation, at a total cost of around £75 million.

The Labour Party has promised to compensate every surviving veteran exposed to radiation from British nuclear tests since the 1950s.

The party says each of an estimated 1,500 surviving former personnel will receive a lump-sum £50,000 in compensation, which could a total of around £75 million.

Around 20,000 British soldiers witnessed hundreds of atomic tests, with the most notorious being the Operation Grapple Y in 1958 which was more than 100 times more powerful than the bombs which levelled Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The service personnel who experienced such testing developed numerous health problems, as have some of their descendants.

In confirming the pledge during her the Labour Party conference speech in Brighton, Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry said the veterans were owed a "huge debt".

"The men from who from 1950s onwards who were exposed to terrible levels of radiation when overseeing Britain’s nuclear tests and who have not just seen their own health damaged as a result, but most painfully their children and their grandchildren too," she said.

British atomic nuclear weapon test during Operation Hurricane
Operation Hurricane was the first time a British atomic weapon was tested (Picture: Royal Australian Navy).

"Both the US and France have given large lump-sum payments to some of their own nuclear test veterans to help them cope with their medical problems.

"We will give a £50,000 lump sum payment to every surviving test veteran to help them and their families cope with their medical problems and give them the security and comfort they deserve in their old age."

Ms Thornberry also confirmed Labour will ensure equal demob payments for "black African, Asian and Caribbean soldiers who fought to free the world from fascism" if they get into Government.

The Shadow Foreign Secretary said: "They fought at the same rank and in the same regiments, and they put their lives on the line for our freedom.

"They watched their comrades die but then they faced the insult, the indigently, of being paid a different rate when they went home – simply because of the colour of their skin."