MPs must listen to military charities like Royal British Legion and Help for Heroes on Armed Forces Bill - Yorkshire Post says

IT would be a serious insult and avoidable own goal if the Government did not do all it could to protect members of the armed forces community and ensure they are not disadvantaged in society as a result of their service.
Soliders from Catterick Garrison. Picture: Gary Longbottom.Soliders from Catterick Garrison. Picture: Gary Longbottom.
Soliders from Catterick Garrison. Picture: Gary Longbottom.

Such a scenario is the concern of 12 military charities including the Royal British Legion and Help for Heroes, which believe that proposed legislation “does not go far enough”. In an open letter they have urged MPs to widen the scope of the Armed Forces Bill currently going through Parliament.

The purpose of the Bill is to renew the Armed Forces Act 2006, which needs to be done every five years. It is set to expire at the end of 2021 and if passed will be valid until 2026.

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While the charities have welcomed new provisions to improve members’ access to various services, they have said the exemption of national Government and devolved administrations from that duty is a “major gap” and also warn of omissions in employment, pensions, compensation, social care, criminal justice, and immigration.

Yorkshire, of course, has a large population of serving and former forces personnel, mainly at Catterick Garrison near Richmond.

When commemorations such as Remembrance Sunday come around, politicians are quick to lay wreaths and lavish these servicemen and women with words of solemn gratitude.

But ministers must recognise the vital service of the forces both in times of conflict and relative peace – their support with the COVID-19 vaccination rollout is a present example – through effective formal safeguards, not just gestures and political sloganeering.