Veterans Abroad: Military Covenant

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 9th January 2018.

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Photo of Hugo Swire Hugo Swire Conservative, East Devon 12:00 am, 9th January 2018

What discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Defence on the application of the Military Covenant’s Duty of Care to veterans living abroad.

Photo of Rory Stewart Rory Stewart Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development), Minister of State (Department for International Development) (Jointly with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office), The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

I have not held full discussions with the Secretary of State for Defence on this subject. However, we feel deep respect for anybody who has served in the armed forces, and the Government have been pleased to put £770 million from the LIBOR fund into supporting veterans at home and abroad.

Photo of Hugo Swire Hugo Swire Conservative, East Devon

Of course, we very much welcome that. According to the campaigning charity, ZANE: Zimbabwe A National Emergency, there are 600 former British servicemen—those who have served the Crown—and widows of servicemen living in considerable pensioner poverty in Zimbabwe. Does the Minister agree that although the financial responsibility is that of the Government in Harare, the moral responsibility lies also with us? With that in mind, will he commit to meeting the Secretary of State for Defence to discuss those people, and will he press the new Zimbabwean President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, to actually face up to his responsibilities to these people who are living in his country?

Photo of Rory Stewart Rory Stewart Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development), Minister of State (Department for International Development) (Jointly with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office), The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

I will absolutely commit to meeting the Secretary of State for Defence on this subject. We have met my right hon. Friend Sir Nicholas Soames and Lord Goodlad to discuss the matter. The prime responsibility for looking after veterans of the Zimbabwean army lies with the Government of Zimbabwe, so we will also raise the issue directly with President Mnangagwa.

Photo of Catherine West Catherine West Labour, Hornsey and Wood Green

This question relates to military personnel. We read in today’s Guardian that drone strikes have doubled and the number of civilians affected has doubled. What legal advice do military personnel involved in drone strikes receive?

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion Committee

Order. Although it was a most ingenious attempt, I am afraid that the hon. Lady’s point is not merely tangential, but irrelevant to the substance of the question. She can have another go later, if she feels so inclined.