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Implementation of the Armed Forces Act 2006

Volume 498: debated on Thursday 29 October 2009

I am pleased to announce that implementation of the Armed Forces Act 2006 will be completed and the Act will come into force on 31 October. The legislation establishes for the first time a single system of service law across the armed forces. It preserves the important principle of a separate service justice system, reflecting the particular circumstances of the armed forces, and keeps the commanding officer at the heart of service discipline. It also promotes greater fairness, which in turn supports operational effectiveness.

The new single, harmonised and modernised system of service law will apply to the personnel of all three services at all times, wherever in the world they are serving. It will also apply to some civilians, but only overseas and in specified circumstances.

When the new legislation comes into force, a number of Acts of Parliament will be repealed, including the current Service Discipline Acts (the Army Act 1955, the Air Force Act 1955 and the Naval Discipline Act 1957).

The Armed Forces Act 2006 was the largest and arguably the most significant piece of legislation the Ministry of Defence has ever put before Parliament. Its implementation has been a lengthy and complex process, but the new single system of service law that it has established will serve the armed forces well for many years to come.

Guidance on the new service justice system is provided in the “Manual of Service Law”, which is now available on the Armed Forces Act 2006 website at the following link: I will also arrange for a copy to be placed in the Library of the House.