This week, evidence sessions for the Select Committee on the Armed Forces bill continued. Here is a summary of what happened.
Wednesday 17th March
The first evidence session of this week explored the Bill’s provisions on the Service Justice Reform and focusing on the Service Complaints system and the Bill’s impact on people with protected characteristics.
I was particularly interested in this session, because a remark made the week before had stuck with me. In a session last week we heard from those closely involved with the Service Justice System review and the heads of the Service Prosecution Authority and judiciary. One remark stood out to me so much that I put it to the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, in a debate on violence against women:
"our service people are thoroughly good people, but they drink too much, something goes wrong and they end up in court"
In Wednesday's session, we heard contributions from people who had experience working with female veterans and victims of sexual abuse, so I asked them their thoughts on the statement, and if some of the most serious offences, like rape, in the armed forces could be tried in civilian courts, rather than the military justice system.
Thursday 18th March
The sessions on Thursday explored housing and healthcare provisions for service personnel and veterans.
One of the aspects of the Armed Forces Bill is to have due regard for the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant.
The Armed Forces Act 2011 enshrined the principles of the Covenant in law. These are:
In this session, I asked if having due regard would improve mental health services offered to veterans.
Evidence sessions will continue next week.
Information and Support
You can find out more about this week's session, and watch the sessions in full here
The Armed Forces Bill is available to read here
The Royal British Legion
Help for Heroes
Veterans Wales (Swansea Bay University Health Board contacts)
Swansea Council's Councillor Champion for the Armed Forces - Cllr.Wendy.Lewis@swansea.gov.uk