Strengthening Families — [Mr Peter Bone in the Chair]

Part of Backbench Business – in Westminster Hall at 2:41 pm on 8th February 2018.

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Photo of Desmond Swayne Desmond Swayne Conservative, New Forest West 2:41 pm, 8th February 2018

My hon. Friend draws a very important and powerful corrective to proceeding with that Bill, certainly in its current form.

I am very glad that Carol Monaghan spoke earlier. I draw attention to what she said about service life. Those of us who have experienced service life and who have a constituency with a large number of service personnel will know that the statistics for marriage breakdown are much higher and much worse for military families. That is largely as a consequence of the pressures of having to deal with prolonged absences and the whole operational cycle. I put that to the Minister in the hope that he will draw it to the attention of Defence Ministers.

There certainly is scope within such institutions as the armed forces to provide training courses that will help with family breakdown. There are all sorts of courses available that help people to strength their relationships, and I have experienced them myself. I suggest that within a military environment there is scope for making such courses available to both partners—not just the serving partner—in a way that would not be available in civilian life. After all, those of us who have served did our MATTs every year. I have long ago forgotten what that stands for, but as well as the ordinary battlefield drills, skill at arms, and nuclear, biological, chemical and battlefield first aid, part of it was about standards and values, and it strikes me that there is scope under standards and values to strengthen relationships.