Select Committee on Defence Seventh Report

Annex B: Report on the Committee's web forum

The Committee ran a web forum in two stages during 2007. The first stage began in May and was extended into June, while the second ran in November and was extended by a week into December.

The purpose of the web forum was to attempt to engage directly with Service personnel, their families and others, and to hear the views of those who would not normally submit evidence to an inquiry by a select committee of Parliament. The forum was advertised by press release and publicised to, among others, Service welfare groups, HIVEs, health organisations and unofficial Service internet sites.

The first stage addressed three main areas. These were the care provided for Service personnel injured on operations, the provision of healthcare for Service families at home and abroad, and the ways in which the Ministry of Defence and the National Health Service cooperate to deliver healthcare for the Armed Forces.

The second stage invited contributions on mental health, Reserve personnel, cooperation between the MoD and the NHS, and the progress of the inquiry up to that point.

The web forum was created by Parliamentary Information Communication and Technology (PICT) in conjunction with an independent consultant.

In order to contribute directly, interested parties were required to create an account. At registration, a set of basic terms and conditions were made available, as well as a clear explanation of the forum's moderation policy. Once they had created an account, they received a username and password that allowed them to access and submit to the forum. Users were also able to read the posts and discussions without logging in.

During the course of the forum, Committee staff, with support from the Committee Office Scrutiny Unit, were responsible for 'facilitation moderation'. The Chairman posted comments to facilitate discussions, asking for additional comments on an issue posted on the web pages, or introducing a new topic to move the discussion along.

The web forum closed in December 2007, but contributions can still be viewed at

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Prepared 18 February 2008