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House of Commons Hansard
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02 May 1985
Volume 78
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asked the Secretary of State for Defence what written guidance or advice is given to service personnel who are summoned to appear before a general court martial.

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Each service had produced a pamphlet which is available to those who are likely to be remanded for trial by court martial. These provide a short guide to the rights, duties and liabilities which the accused may have under the appropriate service Discipline Act. Additional detailed guidance is contained in Queen's Regulations, the Rules of Procedure (Army) and (Air Force) and from the appropriate manual of service law.

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asked the Secretary of State for Defence, what facilities are made available to service personnel who are due to appear before a court martial to obtain independent legal advice.

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A service man is entitled to have a civilian lawyer to defend him at a court martial wherever it is practicable to provide one. The accused is required to be afforded proper opportunity to communicate with the defending officer or counsel to enable him to prepare his defence. Legal aid may in appropriate cases be made available.

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asked the Secretary of State for Defence what guidance or instructions are given to the presidents of courts martial so as to ensure that the question of ranking does not affect the conduct of the courts martial; and if he will place a copy of guidance, if any, in the Library.

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The rules of conduct for courts martial are contained in the Naval Courts-Martial (Procedure) Order 1957 (Statutory Instrument No. 1957/2225), the Rules of procedure (Army) (Statutory Instrument No. 1972/316, as amended by SI 1977/92, SI 1981/1220, SI 1982/369, SI 1983/719, and SI 1984/1670), and the Rules of Procedure (Air Force) (Statutory Instrument No. 1972/419 as amended by SI 1977/94, SI 1981/1219, SI 1982/368, SI 1983/718 and SI 1984/1669). These rules require that the opinion of each member of the court martial as to the finding on the charge and on sentencing is to be given orally, in closed court in order of seniority commencing with the most junior in rank. The statutory instruments above are available in the Library.

each case before the recent reductions in the band services began.

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The information requested is set out in the following table:

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asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many courts martial were held in the years 1982, 1983 and 1984, listing the number of convictions and acquittals in each year.

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The information is as follows:

YearNumber of TrialsConvictions (No. of Persons)Acquittals (No. of Persons)
19821,4371,48965
19831,1481,21366
19841,1141,16176

Note: Number of trials includes dissolved and adjourned cases.

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asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many appeals there were against the decisions of courts martial in the years 1982, 1983 and 1984; and how many were successful, listing them as to appeals against (a) sentence and (b) conviction.

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My noble Friend, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Armed Forces will write to the hon. Member when the information has been assembled.