We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Armed Forces: Statutory Association Body

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 26th November 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Patrick Grady Patrick Grady SNP Chief Whip 12:00 am, 26th November 2018

If the Government will award armed forces personnel the right to join a statutory association body.

Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

With your permission, Mr Speaker, I will group this with Question 18.

Armed forces personnel are prohibited from joining any such lawful organisation. Personnel may become members of civilian trade unions and professional associations. If they are a member of a trade union, they cannot participate in any industrial action.[This section has been corrected on 28 November 2018, column 1MC — read correction]

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

I do not think the grouping had previously been requested, although I would not go to the wall over that, but in any case it cannot apply for the very good reason that Question 18 has been withdrawn. However, I daresay the Minister will bear that burden with stoicism and fortitude.

Photo of Patrick Grady Patrick Grady SNP Chief Whip

Does the Minister not recognise that we owe our current and former personnel a voice in the development of the policies that serve and support them, and that that is what a statutory representative body would do? Does he agree that, at the very least, the House should have an opportunity to fully debate this? Will he therefore ask the Leader of the House to make time for the Armed Forces Representative Body Bill, introduced by my hon. Friend Martin Docherty-Hughes?

Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

I am obviously saddened that there is less time to debate this important issue right now, let alone on any future occasion. I want to make it clear that our armed forces prepare not for the world that we live in but for the world that we might find ourselves in. We are the ultimate backstop. We are the ones who step forward and fill the gaps when there is a necessity to do so. We cannot do that if there is a threat of industrial action or if we are in some way unable to provide those services. By all means bring that debate on; I will be more than happy to explain in more detail why the status quo is correct.