Veterans Care Sector: Government Role

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:01 pm on 25th October 2016.

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Photo of Johnny Mercer Johnny Mercer Chair, Defence Sub-Committee, Chair, Defence Sub-Committee 6:01 pm, 25th October 2016

I entirely agree, and I will come to the four principles, of which that is one, that should underlie veterans care. It is not a case of veterans being entitled to that care; we owe it to them and we must deliver it.

That is why I seek leave again to challenge the Minister on the Floor of the House and to challenge this Government to fulfil their duty to those who do our bidding from this House. I know that it can be a little tedious watching or listening to me keeping on about this agenda. I am not naive about that, but I cannot stop. I do not do it because I have nothing else to do. I do not do it because there are particularly good career prospects in this line of work, or because there is some sort of intangible crowd that I am playing to out there. I do it for the one simple thing that drove so many of us in the past decade and a half to conduct unpopular wars on this nation’s behalf, miles from home and often from the public eye.

I refer to that one word which I remember compelling the marine at the front of my patrol to do his duty, refusing any relief from those duties—in his case seeking out improvised explosive devices day after day for seven long months. I refer to that thing which makes a young officer calmly accept his fate with the words, “Lads, I’m going down,” rather than lose his composure in the heat of battle as he died in front of his men. I do not seek to lecture my esteemed colleagues in Government, but it is my duty to those men to keep up this fight, and the sacrifice I make in doing this is so entirely insignificant compared to theirs that I feel I must keep going until we match what we say as a Government from that Dispatch Box with what it feels like for our men and women who serve.

I applaud the Government’s efforts on this agenda, but they are not enough— nowhere near enough. I have no doubt that this Minster and his staff work night and day trying to deliver this agenda, but he can only work with the resource and priorities that he is given by the Secretary of State for Defence and the Prime Minister.