Service Complaints Commissioner


Mr Derek Twigg MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Defence at the Ministry of Defence has given the government's response to the Defence Committee's Fourteenth Report of 7 November 2006 which proposed a setting up of an independent Service Complaint's Commissioner (SCC). That is to say, the appointment of an office holder who is responsible the the handling of complaints made by servicemen.

The Government is opposed to the degree of independence to be enjoyed by such a commissioner.

The Government support the proposal byLord Drayson in his statement to the Lords (to whom he previously dissembled over the issue of faulty .50 ammunition) that the Commissioner should be the right 'sort', neither a serving officer of the Armed Forces nor a Civil Servant - ie, no-one who is familiar with the way in which the Military is either run or managed. The Government will be responsible for funding an office of state whose function it is to investigate a departments of state. The Government Will draft, by statutory instrument, the terms of reference and the detailed mechanism by which the 'independent' Commissioner will investigate such complaints made against department run by the Government. Moreover, t does not want the 'independent' Commissioner to have the powers to supervise the way in which such complaints are handled investigated by the Chain of Command.

In other words, they do not appear to want anyone who is either knowledgeable about the way the system operates, or if he has it, or might be professionally advised how it operates, they do not want him to have the ability to look too closely, and by setting the boundaries of his powers and how he uses them as well as controlling the finances for his department, the Government can ensure that he is not too inconvenently independent enough to cause too much trouble for the Government..

Those with long memories will recall what happened to the so-called 'independent' Commissioner for Parliamentary Standards, Elizabeth Filkin, who became rather too good at her job. Her funding was cut, her department was run down and eventually she was replaced after she hauled a number of MP's over the coals for impropriety, including John Reid, Peter Mandelsohn and the then Minister for Europe, Keith Vaz who was very nearly arrested by the Police.

You can bet that anything said to be 'independent' is far from independent in reality and this sort of response by the Government would seem to indicate their desire to find nothing more than a rubber stamp funded by the taxpayer who will have no real independent powers at all.

The Government hope to incorporate the final provisions into the Armed Forces Act which is targeted for completion by the end of 2008.

Regards and best wishes

edited to add hyperlinks


War Hero
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Wouldn't it be lovely if the SCC could investigate complaints about procurement failings, accommodation inadequacies, potentially mothballing 50% of the fleet etc etc

Shut up, utg, get back in your box


Hi untallguy,

Some of the deficiencies in the procurement programme were addressed by the Commons Select Committee on Defence in their First Report for Parliamentary session 2006-07 which was published and put into the public domain on 8 December 2006.

Page 24 for instance involves the the contract with BAE for the design, build and initial support of the new 'Astute' Class of Submarine for the Navy to be delivered in 2008. Some of which are now in the advance stages of completion yet, when the MOD renegotiated the contract with BAE they omitted to leave out minor details such as how much BAE were actually going to charge for them. The taxpayer will, as a result 'pay through the nose' for them since BAE may simply charge what they like. This is what Lord Drayson would have us believe is 'smart procurement'!

Service Accommodation is not one of those areas which has yet to be addressed by the Committee since it has only recently been put into the public domain and dd not arise as an issue until after the committee had finished taking evidence for the complilation of their report published in December. However, that it has now become a cause celebre for most of the media and the inevitable rise in MPs constituency mail as a result of it, then you can bet your DROP that it will be the subject of some lively debate during Prime Minster's questions and the subject of some oral and written questions put to Ministers. I will keep and eye on Hansard on this issue and post anything relevant on the issue.

Regards and best wishes

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