The Armed Forces Bill - Armed Forces Committee Contents

4  Matters not in the Bill

18. There were a few matters that were raised with us that are not in the Bill.

Veterans ID Card

19. We had a robust discussion during formal consideration of the possibility of a veterans identity card, which would assist former members of the Armed Forces in obtaining access to public services and other benefits.[21] The Committee felt the matter of a veterans ID card could usefully be explored further.

Recruitment of Under-18s

20. The matter of the recruitment of minors to service in the Armed Forces is a perennial issue for Armed Forces Bill Committees. We have received a great deal of written evidence on the matter, and raised concerns with the Deputy Chief of Defence Staff, Lt Gen. Sir William Rollo, who clarified the MoD's position regarding the discharge of unhappy minors.[22] We also discussed the matter at length in our formal consideration.[23] We do not advocate any change to existing policy in relation to the recruitment of under-18s.

Civilian Courts

21. During our visit to the Military Court in Colchester on February 14 we had the opportunity to meet the Judge Advocate sitting that day, Judge Advocate Emma Peters. She raised with us the matter of Service personnel being tried in civilian courts, which she believed lacked the proper specialist knowledge and experience to deal with them appropriately. It was the opinions of the Judge Advocates that there was capacity within the Service Justice system to undertake some of these cases instead. Her comments reflected points raised in the written evidence from the Judge Advocate General, His Honour Judge Jeff Blackett.[24] The MoD also provided us with further information on the Government's position on this matter.[25]

22. We recommend that the MoD give consideration to the matter of Service personnel being tried in civilian courts, in coordination with the Director of Public Prosecutions and relevant Government departments as appropriate. If there is capacity within the Service justice system, there may be a benefit in transferring the handling of some cases to the Military Courts where circumstances permit. There may also be scope for the creation of a power in civilian courts to remit cases to the Military Courts for sentence.

21   Annex,17 February 2011, cols 89-103 Back

22   Qq 238-240 Back

23   Annex, 17 February 2011, cols 103-115 Back

24   Ev 93, paras 5-7 Back

25   Ev 123 Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2011
Prepared 10 March 2011