Armed Forces Covenant

Part of Bombardier – in the House of Commons at 2:50 pm on 22nd November 2018.

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Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence 2:50 pm, 22nd November 2018

I am sorry, I will not give way. If I have time, I will give way shortly.

I am pleased to present the report on the armed forces covenant. The covenant is making a real difference, but we need to do more in scrutinising our support for the armed forces community. First, whether in helping a child into school, getting personnel on to the housing ladder or, indeed, getting better data when it comes to understanding the number of suicides that have taken place, there is room for improvement. That includes better joined-up work between organisations and stakeholders, not least with the private sector and the public sector. It is important that there are no gaps.

Secondly, it is important that we maintain momentum in pressing partners to play their part in progressing the work of the armed forces champions and, indeed, getting more businesses—we now have over 3,000—to sign up to the covenant. I would love to get to a point where, when waiting to board an aircraft, I heard the announcement, “In appreciation for their service, would all armed forces veterans please have the honour of boarding our aircraft first?”

Finally—this point was raised a number of times in the Chamber—we need to transform perceptions about what our military personnel actually offer, and to bury the myths that are falsely perpetuated about our armed forces personnel being broken by their service.

A mark of professionalism is not just how we equip our armed forces on the frontline, but how we look after them when they are back home—the housing, the education of children and the health requirements—and our duty of care once they depart. That is why we have an armed forces covenant. In considering that, let us consider not just the last generation who have served or the current generation who are serving, but the next generation whom we are inspiring to sign up to our armed forces.

From where I stand, the world is getting more dangerous and more complex. As Britain aspires to continue to play a role on the international stage, we must retain our full spectrum capability. This is not just about hardware; it is also about people. It is about honouring our covenant commitments and allowing us to retain skills, so that we can continue to be the most professional armed force in the world. In that spirit, I commend the report on the armed forces covenant to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That this House
has considered the Armed Forces Covenant.