The House of Lords debated the second reading of the Armed Forces Bill – a general debate on all aspects of the Bill – on Wednesday 6 July. An Armed Forces Bill is required every five years. The last Bill received Royal Assent in November 2006 and therefore a new Bill is required in the 2010-2012 Session
The debate followed a Government statement on Afghanistan.
Issues discussed during the debate on the Bill included:
- the 'military covenant'
- the preparedness of and resources for the armed forces deployed in Afghanistan and Libya
- the call out of reserves
- clinical care and rehabilitation services provision
- military inquests and the role of coroners
- the disciplinary system for services personnel
- the size of the armed forces
- housing for services personnel and their families.
Contributors to the debate
Members of the Lords who contributed to the debate included (use links below to watch/listen to their contributions):
- Lord Dannatt, a former head of the British Army; and Lord Stirrup, former Chief of the Defence Staff.
- Former Defence Ministers Lord Touhig, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State and Minister for Veterans, Ministry of Defence (2005-06); Lord Lee of Trafford, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (1983-86); Lord Freeman, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Armed Forces (1986-88); Lord Judd, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Navy), Ministry of Defence (1974-76).
Other speakers included:
Lord Selkirk of Douglas, Lord Kakkar, and the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich also took part.
Lord Astor of Hever opened the debate for Government. Lord Rosser responded to the debate on behalf of the Opposition.
The Armed Forces Bill provides the legal basis for the system of military law which exists in the UK, and an opportunity to make any suggested or necessary amendments. It also presents an opportunity to introduce new measures relating to the Armed Forces outside the traditional sphere of Service discipline.
Second reading is the first opportunity for Members of the Lords to debate the main principles and purpose of the Bill and to flag up concerns and areas where they think changes (amendments) are needed.