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Armed Forces: Repatriation

Volume 711: debated on Wednesday 3 June 2009

Statement

My right honourable friend the Minister of State for the Armed Forces (Bob Ainsworth) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Ministry of Defence has recently amended its policy for the repatriation of deceased service personnel from operational theatres. Henceforth, all service men and women who die on operations overseas will be afforded a ceremonial repatriation, regardless of the manner of their death.

Under a strict application of the previous policy, only those personnel “killed in action” or who “died of wounds” acquired as a result of enemy action qualified for a ceremonial repatriation. The policy for all other fatalities suffered in operational theatres was that, while they would be repatriated with all due dignity, any ceremony would be reserved for a military funeral if the family requested one.  

However, it has been our recent practice to ensure that all fatalities from operational theatres are afforded a ceremonial repatriation unless their families expressly request otherwise. This best meets the expectation of families of deceased personnel, the services and nation—that those who die while serving their country on operations, whatever the actual circumstances of their death, should be honoured on their return. It is therefore right and proper that we ensure that our policy is brought in line with what is a wholly appropriate practice.

There are no plans to amend the policy for the movement of deceased personnel within the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland.