Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:28 pm on 27th October 2016.

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Photo of Johnny Mercer Johnny Mercer Chair, Defence Sub-Committee 3:28 pm, 27th October 2016

The hon. Lady is right. That is a generic function of leadership, not one that is particular to this cause. Having that intimate relationship with our soldiers, or with those under our command, is something we work hard on at a junior level. At a senior level, it is desired. Whether the time is taken to do that is another matter. Across the military, we need to foster an environment where it is okay for a conversation to go both ways so that we can get on top of such problems.

I know that more Members want to speak, so I will finish soon. We need to change our view on having a softer side in the Ministry of Defence and understand how important it is to look after people. Whether we reconfigure what we do, or look into having a Minister for defence people or whatever as a No. 2 in the MOD, we need to bump that change up the priority list. I thank the Defence Committee and its Chair for letting us look into the issue. People talk about Parliament being so remote—that essentially, we just turn oxygen into carbon dioxide and no one really cares—but I hope that the people who have been affected by the issue see that Parliament does work for them and can take some comfort from that.