Armed Forces (Federation) Bill 2006-07

I am pleased to have the opportunity to introduce this Bill today. Last year, I had the pleasure of serving on the Committee that considered the Armed Forces Bill. During consideration in Committee, I moved new clause 23, which would have established the formation of an armed forces federation open to serving and retired members of Her Majesty’s armed forces, both regular and reserve. I have to say that I was neither surprised nor disappointed that the new clause was not accepted, but our consideration of it allowed the Committee to discuss the issues surrounding it.

I now believe that there is a groundswell of opinion among the public as well as among members of the armed forces that it is time that those members should have an independent voice to represent their interests. Recent controversies surrounding accommodation, the treatment given in medical facilities to injured personnel returning from Iraq—and, of course, the scandal at Deepcut—have highlighted the increasing need for members of the armed forces to have an independent voice and to ensure that it is heard.

There is also increasing evidence that members of Her Majesty’s armed forces need to have access to independent legal advice. In the previous Parliament, I also served on the Committee that considered the Armed Forces (Pensions and Compensation) Act 2004. It was clear from those deliberations that members of Her Majesty’s armed services needed independent employment advice and advice about their pensions.

I propose not a trade union but a federation along the lines of the Police Federation. I want to build on the excellent work already done by the British Armed Forces Federation, which was set up in 2006, has recently been incorporated as a company limited by guarantee, and is now recruiting members. The work of Douglas Young and his team at the BAFF has been important in raising awareness of such issues among members of the armed forces. The Bill would put the federation on a formal recognised footing with the Ministry of Defence.
The Bill would not set up an armed forces federation; it already exists. Instead, it would allow the BAFF to be recognised by the Ministry of Defence and be valued for providing a voice for ordinary members of our armed forces. The BAFF has already stated that if legislation, such as this Bill, were introduced, it would look to work with the Government and stakeholders to develop the appropriate structures for the representation of members of our armed forces. The Bill provides just that opportunity, and I urge the House to support it.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Kevan Jones, Mr. David Anderson, Mr. Iain Wright, David Wright, Helen Jones and Jim Sheridan.

Full text here

Fingers crossed, but well done to all concerned in getting to this stage.
Thanks, PTP

As a Bill introduced under the Ten Minute Rule it will not reach the statute book, but this is a significant and (in my opinion) welcome development.

D.Y. (British Armed Forces Federation - BAFF)

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