My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Kevan Jones) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
I have today published a Green Paper The Nation’s Commitment to the Armed Forces Community: Consistent and Enduring Support.
Last summer’s publication of the Command Paper, The Nation’s Commitment: Cross-Government Support to our Armed Forces, their Families and Veterans, was well received by the services, by veterans groups and by the public at large. We shall be publishing the first annual report in the autumn charting the progress that has been made. This work has already delivered significant improvements in a number of areas:
doubling compensation for the most serious injuries;
free further education for service leavers; and
help for forces leavers to get on the housing ladder.
We said last year that we would not allow this strategy of support to our Armed Forces community to fade. Today's Green Paper sets out the next step in this process. We would like to see an enduring shift in the way in which public bodies think about the Armed Forces community, so that their special circumstances are taken into account at all stages, from policy formation to service delivery. The Command Paper was an important step forward; we must now make permanent the approach which it embodied.
This Green Paper sets out a range of ideas, including through possible legislation, for how we can achieve this. It focuses on two strands: making the principles enshrined within the Command Paper consistent and enduring, and providing a new route for recourse.
The ideas are intentionally broad and wide ranging. There is no single favoured option at this stage. We want to explore these ideas through a public consultation, where everyone can have their say about the best way forward. The responses received will allow us to make informed, collective decisions on how best to take this work forward and deliver real and lasting effect for the Armed Forces community.
Where the options relate to devolved matters in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales we will work with the devolved Administrations who are responsible for a number of areas such as health, housing, education, skills and transport in determining how best to take forward the principles of achieving equal or similar levels of support for the Armed Forces community. In these areas the devolved Administrations will wish to consider the responses to this consultation in respect of devolved matters and determine a way forward that is appropriate for them, in consultation with their strategic partners. The UK Government will work with them to deliver a solution which supports the Armed Forces community across the UK.
Those who serve on our behalf place all that they have on the line for this country. In return, the nation has a commitment to make sure that they have the support they need and deserve, when they need it. The consultation period will complete on 31 October 2009.