Armed Forces Bill: Lords agrees Commons' changes

17 March 2015

The Armed Forces (Service Complaints and Financial Assistance) Bill returned to the Lords for consideration of Commons' changes on Monday 16 March.

Members of the Lords considered Commons' proposals to extend the role of the Service Complaints Ombudsman in a number of ways. Necessary changes to equalities legislation in Northern Ireland required for the bill to be enforced were also discussed. All Commons' changes were agreed to without a vote.

The Armed Forces (Service Complaints and Financial Assistance) Bill has now completed its passage through Parliament. A date for royal assent, the point at which the bill becomes law, is yet to be scheduled.

Lords third reading: Monday 20 October

Members discussed a suggested change to give the the new Service Complaints Ombudsman power to report on thematic issues without being dependent on the secretary of state. Members voted 172 for and 209 against, so the change was not made.

Lords report stage: Wednesday 9 July

Members of the Lords discussed suggested changes covering the role of the new Service Complaints Ombudsman. They also considered the procedure allowing family members to make and maintain complaints should an individual die in the course of their service.

Lords committee stage: Wednesday 9 July

Members began by discussing the creation of, and appointments to, a Service Complaints Ombudsman. Peers queried whether there should be a fixed period of time after leaving the armed forces before a former member could be appointed.

Lords went on to look at the procedure for making complaints, including the rules around complaints by a family members, time limits for making complaints and the circumstances complaints in which could be made inadmissible.

Peers also considered whether the secretary of state should publish an annual report on the allocation of financial payments to charities and other organisations that support the armed forces community.

Lords second reading: Monday 23 June

Lords debated the key measures outlined in the bill, which looks at the system to deal with complaints and grievances from armed forces personnel. They discussed plans to create a new Service Complaints Ombudsman, in place of the existing Service Complaints Commissioner, and to substitute the existing service complaints system with a new statutory framework. They also looked at the ways the bill will ensure financial assistance to charities and other organisations that support the armed forces community.

Peers raised concerns around how the new complaints system would work, and asked whether a more relaxed style might be more effective. They also questioned if the proposals would deal with current delays in the complaints system.

Armed Forces (Service Complaints and Financial Assistance) Bill summary

The Armed Forces (Service Complaints and Financial Assistance) Bill will include measures about service complaints and financial assistance for the armed forces community.

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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