Armed Forces Bill

Explanatory Notes

Policy background

2 Since the 1950s, an Armed Forces Act has been required every five years to continue in force the legislation enabling the armed forces to be recruited and maintained as disciplined bodies.

3 The Armed Forces Act 2006 introduced a single system of service law that applies to all service personnel wherever in the world they are operating. The Act provides nearly all the provisions for the existence of a system for the armed forces of command, discipline and justice. It also provides a more limited system for dealing with offences by some civilians when they are living or working with the armed forces outside the United Kingdom.

4 It covers matters such as offences, the powers of the service police, and the jurisdiction and powers of commanding officers and of the service courts, in particular the Court Martial. It also contains a large number of other important provisions as to the armed forces, such as provision for enlistment, pay and redress of complaints. In the Bill, and in these Notes, the Armed Forces Act 2006 is referred to as "AFA 2006".

5 The Armed Forces Act 2011 was much smaller in scale than AFA 2006. Most of the provisions of the 2011 Act amended AFA 2006 but, in common with previous Armed Forces Acts, it also contained some provisions that fell outside the traditional area of service discipline.

6 This Bill is similar in scale to the 2011 Act. Like the 2011 Act, most of the provisions amend AFA 2006 and relate to the armed forces’ disciplinary system. Clauses 15, 16 and 17 fall outside the area of service discipline. Clause 15 relates to war pensions committees. Clauses 16 and 17 relate to Ministry of Defence fire-fighters.


Prepared 12th January 2016