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National Defence Medal

Volume 518: debated on Monday 8 November 2010

9. If he will bring forward proposals for a national defence medal to recognise non-operational military service. (22170)

The Government hold the professionalism, courage and contribution of all those who serve or who have served in the armed forces in high regard. I understand that some people believe that their service, and the service of all personnel, should warrant a medal. The coalition Government are committed to reviewing the rules governing the award of medals. However, at present, there are no plans to recommend to Her Majesty the introduction of a national defence medal.

I very much welcome the review. We are just a few days away from Remembrance day, and since 1919 we have been remembering the sacrifice of our armed services. Today, however, we have much improved media and greater transparency, and we understand more the mental, emotional and physical sacrifice that all our armed services personnel make. Is now not the time to include a national defence medal in that review?

We are going to have that review, and may I recommend to the hon. Lady that she puts forward her views at that time? Indeed, I know that they represent her party’s policy, which it adopted at a recent conference. Medals are awarded for campaign service because they recognise the risk and rigour of deployment, which is considered to be more extreme than when, I am afraid, people are in a barracks or at home on a base.

May I urge the Minister to err on the side of generosity? The previous Government could not take on the review committees of retired colonels and General Blimps, who refused to order even a Bomber Command campaign medal. People like to wear medals and are very proud of the Army now, and they also serve who serve in this country. I hope that the Minister will not shove the idea out to a review. He should come back and accept the hon. Lady’s suggestion.

As I have said, we are not shoving the idea out but having a review. Some who have served would like to see a national defence medal, but my experience is that probably the majority of those who have been in the armed forces and then left accept the decisions that were made when they were serving and do not wish to revisit history in that way.