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National Defence Medal

Volume 590: debated on Monday 12 January 2015

There is a long-standing and widely understood military tradition that medals are not awarded as a record of service but in recognition of specific campaigns or operations, acts of gallantry or outstanding service. We set up an independent review into medals and decorations, and its chair, Sir John Holmes, specifically considered this matter and decided against such a medal. That decision received royal approval.

MOD tradition and protocol have an important role, but would it not just be the decent thing to recognise our veterans in this way simply because they have served their country? Would it not be wonderful to have cross-party agreement to recognise them, as happens in many other English-speaking countries around the world?

We absolutely recognise and pay handsome tribute to our veterans. There is no better example of that than the military covenant and all that it stands for. The fact that so many people are signing up to it—businesses, all our local authorities and so on—demonstrates that the understanding of the great sacrifices made by our veterans in their service and by their families has never been higher in the public’s imagination.

I support the comments of my fellow Essex MP, the hon. Member for Clacton (Douglas Carswell). The last Government quite rightly introduced the national service badge, which has been greatly appreciated. The medal would do no harm, but it would do a lot of good.

I do not agree with my hon. Friend. Medals are for specific campaigns and acts of gallantry, and rightly so. In this instance, therefore, we will have to disagree.