Armed Forces: Pastoral Care

Ministry of Defence written question – answered on 23rd June 2022.

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Photo of Tommy Sheppard Tommy Sheppard Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Constitutional Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of Humanists UK’s submission to the call for evidence on the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy, dated September 2020, on the provision of non-religious pastoral support to armed forces personnel.

Photo of Tommy Sheppard Tommy Sheppard Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Constitutional Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many personnel are employed in (a) the armed forces and (b) his Department to provide belief specific pastoral support and chaplaincy care to members of (i) non-religious, (ii) Baha’i, (iii) Buddhism, (iv) Hinduism, (v) Islam, (vi) Jainism, (vii) Judaism, (viii) Rastafarianism, (ix) Sikhism, (x) Zoroastrianism, (xi) Anglicanism, (xii) Roman Catholicism, (xiii) Methodism and (xiv) other Christian religion and belief groups.

Photo of Tommy Sheppard Tommy Sheppard Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Constitutional Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether he has plans to recruit non-religious chaplains to provide belief-based support for regular and reserve personnel who identify as having no religion.

Photo of Leo Docherty Leo Docherty Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence)

The Ministry of Defence has a diverse population, including personnel with a range of beliefs and faith, and those who have no religion. All military Chaplains have long provided pastoral care to those of all faiths and none. In addition, all Service personnel can access pastoral care from a variety of sources, including from within their Chain of Command, through the Services' professional social workers, medical staff, welfare staff and via the various staff networks, including the Humanist and Non Religious in Defence (HAND) Network.

The Department is working to create and sustain an environment where everyone feels respected and able to achieve their full potential. We have carefully considered the position expressed by Humanists UK on the provision of non-religious pastoral support for our Armed Forces and have recently concluded a review of this matter. We are currently considering the recommendations of that review and how best we can support all our people.

It will take time to collate a detailed breakdown of personnel employed to provide belief-specific pastoral support and chaplaincy care, and I will write in due course.

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