Session 2006-07, 8 January 2007
Publication of Special Report
Government responds to Defence Committee’s concerns about the independence of the Service Complaints Commissioner
The House of Commons Defence Committee today publishes the Government’s Response to the Committee’s report on the Government’s proposal for a Service Complaints Commissioner as its Second Special Report of Session 2006-07 (Armed Forces Bill: proposal for a Service Complaints Commissioner: Government Response to the Fourteenth Report from the Committee, Session 2005-06, HC 180).
The Committee’s Report welcomed the proposal to create a Service Complaints Commissioner, introduced by the Government as an amendment to the Armed Forces Bill following the report of the Deepcut Review. It said that creating an office to which people could make complaints should meet the key concern that Servicemen and women and their families are not always willing to raise issues within the chain of command. But it warned that the role proposed for the Commissioner fell a long way short of the investigatory body recommended in the Defence Committee’s 2005 report on Duty of Care.
The Government’s Response states that its proposals strike the right balance between ensuring that Service personnel can have confidence in the complaints system while preserving the responsibility of the chain of command to investigate and remedy wrongs. It gives reassurance that the Commissioner will be adequately resourced and says that it intends to introduce the Commissioner in advance of full implementation of the Armed Forces Act, for which the target is the end of 2008.
Commenting on the Government Response, Committee Chairman Rt Hon James Arbuthnot MP said “The new Service Complaints Commissioner will have a very important role in reassuring Service personnel and their families - and the public more widely - that complaints will be investigated fully and fairly. The Committee will want to ensure that the new Commissioner is the right person, and has the right powers and resources, to carry out this role effectively.”
NOTES TO EDITORS:
1. Committee Membership is as follows: Rt Hon James Arbuthnot MP (Chairman), Mr David S Borrow MP, Mr David Crausby MP, Linda Gilroy MP, Mr David Hamilton MP, Mr Mike Hancock MP, Mr Dai Havard MP, Mr Adam Holloway MP, Mr Bernard Jenkin MP, Mr Brian Jenkins MP, Mr Kevan Jones MP, Robert Key MP, Willie Rennie MP, John Smith MP
2. The Committee’s report on the Armed Forces Bill: proposal for a Service Complaints Commissioner, Fourteenth Report from the Committee, Session 2005-06, HC 180 can be found at:
3. The Committee’s 2005 report on Duty of Care can be found at:
4. News Release: No. 15
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