Armed Forces Covenant

Part of Bombardier – in the House of Commons at 12:13 pm on 22nd November 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence 12:13 pm, 22nd November 2018

Support for mental health—or what I prefer to call mental fitness—is critical to what the covenant espouses. The hon. Gentleman is right to raise that. If I may, I will venture further into my address, but he is welcome to intervene at a later stage.

I was touching on the reforms that we have seen since the first world war. There have been many key moments in the history of our nation when we bettered the service conditions for our armed forces. The major ones came in 1868 with the Cardwell reforms, which removed the use of flogging, abolished the sale of officers’ commissions and set the length of service for how long people would remain in uniform. In 1880, the Childers reforms established the regimental system that we recognise today and the standardisation of uniform. There was a feeling that wearing a red tunic on the battlefield was not such a great idea, and something a little bit greener might be better if we did not want the enemy to see us—something that my regiment, the Royal Green Jackets, picked up quite quickly, hence the name. From 1906, the Haldane reforms brought in the lessons from the Boer war, but also created the British Expeditionary Force—the first force to set foot in France and provide our initial response in world war one.