Third reading of Armed Forces Bill

17 June 2011

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence, Andrew Robathan, moved the third reading of the Armed Forces Bill in the House of Commons on Thursday 16 June.

Watch and read the third reading debate on Parliament TV and in Commons Hansard.

Armed Forces Bill

The Bill received second reading on Monday 10 January 2011 and was then considered by the Select Committee on the Armed Forces Bill. The Bill was then considered in Committee of the whole House on Tuesday 14 June. The Bill recieved third reading without a vote and will now be considered by the House of Lords.

Why is an Armed Forces Bill required?

An Armed Forces Bill is required every five years. The Bill provides the legal basis for the Armed Forces and the system of military law in the UK. The last Armed Forces Act received Royal Assent in November 2006 and therefore a new Bill is required before the end of the 2010-2012 Parliamentary Session.

Summary of the Armed Forces Bill

The 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.

  • Renews the 2006 Armed Forces Act for a further five years
  • Makes provision for the Secretary of State to make an annual report to Parliament on the military covenant
  • Extends statutory inspections by her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary to the Service police and makes further provision for the independence of Service police investigations from the chain of command. The Bill will also improve procedures for maintaining standards within the MOD Police
  • Confers new powers on judge advocates to authorise entry and search of certain premises; and on the Secretary of State to make provision for Service police to access special categories of material such as bank records
  • Develops the procedures for the redress of complaints by Service personnel
  • Introduces a bespoke military scheme for the testing of Service personnel for alcohol and drugs, in line with the provisions of the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003, from which the military is exempt
  • Extends the jurisdiction of the new courts and procedures, which were established in the Armed Forces Act 2006, to prisoners of war.

Keep up to date with all the proceedings and latest documentation on the Armed Forces Bill.  Also find out how a Bill becomes an Act of Parliament.

What happens at third reading?

Debate on the Bill is usually short, and limited to what is actually in the Bill, rather than, as at second reading, what might have been included.

Amendments (proposals for change) cannot be made to a Bill at third reading in the Commons.

At the end of the debate, the House decides (votes on) whether to approve the third reading of the Bill.

What happens after third reading?

If the Bill started in the Commons it goes to the House of Lords for its first reading.

Image: PA

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