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Armed Forces Act 2011

Volume 542: debated on Monday 26 March 2012

13. What recent progress his Department has made on implementation of the provisions of the Armed Forces Act 2011. (101608)

The Armed Forces Act 2011 received Royal Assent on 3 November 2011. Some of its provisions, including the continuation of the Armed Forces Act 2006, came into force on that day. The provision relating to the call-out of reserve forces came into force two months later. Implementation of the remainder of the Act is now under way. The first commencement order was made on 1 March, which brings into force, with effect on either 8 March or 2 April, about half of the remaining provisions of the Act, including the provisions relating to the armed forces covenant report, Ministry of Defence police performance regulations and the independence of service police investigations.

I thank the Minister for that answer, and may I associate myself with the condolences expressed earlier? Does the Minister agree that means-testing the compensation paid to the bereaved families of those who have fallen on the front line is not right and should be looked at again?

The hon. Lady raises an important issue. This practice causes a great deal of unhappiness among some people, and I accept her point that it should be kept under review. The means-testing of compensation awards is not a Ministry of Defence responsibility, but if she likes I will get my colleagues in the relevant Department to write to her.

I congratulate my right hon. Friend and the Government on their work on the military covenant. Will he take this opportunity to thank organisations such as the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association for the work they do for those serving on the front line and their loved ones?

I certainly will. As my hon. Friend knows, both we and the country as a whole rely a great deal on the service charities and voluntary sector, as have previous Governments. My hon. Friend mentions the SSAFA, but many other organisations, including the Army Benevolent Fund—or ABF, as it is now called—Help for Heroes and the Royal British Legion do excellent work on behalf of our service personnel and ex-service personnel. There are, I think, almost 2,000 such service charities, so I will not name them all.