Families of Commonwealth Soldiers

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:03 pm on 5th March 2019.

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Photo of Caroline Nokes Caroline Nokes The Minister for Immigration 8:03 pm, 5th March 2019

I thank Drew Hendry for bringing this subject to our attention during tonight’s debate. As he said, we are all rightly proud of our armed forces and the contribution made to the tri-services, whether it be the Army, the Royal Air Force or the Royal Navy, by our Commonwealth personnel. There is a long tradition of recruitment from the Commonwealth, which we are all proud to see continuing. Like the hon. Gentleman, I have a military base in my constituency—the School of Army Aviation at Middle Wallop.

In the Home Office, as in all other Government Departments, we are absolutely committed to upholding our obligations under the armed forces covenant, to ensure that no one who is serving or has served, or their family, is disadvantaged because of that service. The Home Office works closely with the Ministry of Defence and the individual services to make sure that those who choose to enlist in Her Majesty’s forces are well informed and fully aware of what the immigration requirements are for them and their families.

As the Immigration Minister, I am responsible for the borders, immigration and citizenship system, including how it applies to the armed forces. That includes our provisions for foreign and Commonwealth members of Her Majesty’s forces, foreign and Commonwealth family members of our service personnel, and members of international armed forces and their families. I am also the Minister with responsibility for the armed forces covenant and veterans’ issues in the Home Office, which means I take a direct interest in the issues affecting our current and former service personnel and their families. I take extremely seriously my role of ensuring that the immigration system operates in supporting the families of our dedicated service personnel who join Her Majesty’s forces from Commonwealth countries. That involves keeping up to speed with the work conducted by the Ministry of Defence and other Departments in delivering our cross-Government commitment to our armed forces covenant obligations. It also includes keeping our policies relating to the armed forces under review, and acknowledging and championing where our policies are meeting our covenant obligations.