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Armed Forces

Volume 704: debated on Tuesday 7 October 2008

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Kevan Jones) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am today announcing that the timescale for implementation of the Armed Forces Act 2006 is being extended.

When it is implemented, the Armed Forces Act 2006 will allow us to replace the three current service discipline Acts and other Armed Forces legislation with a single system of service law.  The service discipline Acts, which have provided the legal basis for discipline in the Armed Forces since the 1950s, will be repealed in due course.

The transitional provisions that will provide the essential bridge between the three service discipline Acts and the Armed Forces Act 2006 have proved more difficult and complex than was envisaged in our original planning.  The main reason for this is that the provisions contained in the older legislation have all been amended, often piecemeal, over a period of several decades.  The result is a complex web of legislation that applies, sometimes in different ways, to each of the Armed Forces. 

The legislation will be brought into effect in October 2009.  We do, however, plan to maintain momentum by making the necessary legislative changes to enable the Director of Service Prosecutions, created under the Armed Forces Act 2006, to prosecute all cases under the existing service discipline Acts from 1 January 2009.  We will bring before Parliament in the autumn the necessary secondary legislation to achieve this.