Armed Forces Covenant

Part of Bombardier – in the House of Commons at 1:57 pm on 22nd November 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Chris Davies Chris Davies Conservative, Brecon and Radnorshire 1:57 pm, 22nd November 2018

I thank the hon. Lady for her intervention, and I congratulate her on her election referred to earlier. A Member of the Legislative Assembly flew over from the Falkland Islands when they heard that Gus was on hunger strike, and they have been involved in his case.

Among the many people who have been involved in Gus’s case are my hon. Friend Mark Pritchard, who is not present, and my hon. Friend Anne-Marie Trevelyan. I thank them for their support for Gus and, indeed, their work with Combat Stress. I pay tribute to the president of Combat Stress, General Sir Peter Wall, who has gone to Newport in Shropshire on several occasions to meet Gus. Ironically, he was previously Gus’s commanding officer, so it is wonderful that he has offered that support. A great deal is happening, but I wanted to raise Gus’s case because he has done a lot and has caught the public eye. It is important now that the Department and we MPs get behind our veterans and make sure that nobody else has to go on a hunger strike to bring these issues to our attention.

Combat Stress is not the only charity out there, of course. The Royal British Legion was very much to the fore in the run-up to Armistice Day. I also wish to pay tribute to Care after Combat, which is unfortunately one of those charities that some people stay away from, because it primarily deals with people who are in prison. They are ex-servicemen and women who, in the main, have mental health issues. They are in prison because of drug and drink-related issues and because they cannot cope with society. Care after Combat does such a good job and is one of the only charities to take these people on board, take them under its wing and look after them. I pay exceptional tribute to Jim Davidson, who is of course well known in many other theatres, not necessarily the theatre of the House of Commons. He has done a superb job of taking these servicemen and women under his wing as chief executive of that charity. He does a vital job.

I am being pressed by the Whips because of the time, but before I sit down, let me give the House a statistic for Care after Combat. In the first year, the reoffending rate is 8% when Care after Combat gets involved, compared with the national average of 45%. That just shows how a little bit of money goes a long way with such a superb charity.