The work of the Service Complaints Commissioner for the Armed Forces - Defence Committee Contents

1  Introduction

Our inquiry

1.  Defence Committees have a long interest in the Service complaints system and the Service Complaints Commissioner, including recommending in the 2005 Report, Duty of Care, that the then Government should move towards establishing an independent military complaints commission (see Annex).[1] The Commissioner has now published four Annual Reports commenting on the Service complaints system and the MoD has deposited in the House of Commons Library a formal response to each of them and to the recommendations made in them. Given the concerns the Commissioner expressed in those Annual Reports about the Service complaints system and her opinion on the future role of the Commissioner, we decided it was an appropriate time to hold a short inquiry into the work of the Service Complaints Commissioner. We announced this inquiry on 17 July 2012 in order to examine the effectiveness of the Service Complaints Commissioner, including the powers and resources available to her, the complaints system (including possible improvements), and the Commissioner's relationship with the MoD and the single Services. We took oral evidence from Dr Susan Atkins, the Service Complaints Commissioner, on 21 November 2012. We received six pieces of written evidence to our inquiry and are grateful to all those who submitted evidence. We are also grateful to our staff and Specialist Advisers for their assistance during our inquiry.[2] As well as commenting on the Service complaints system, the powers of the Commissioner and her role in relation to the Armed Forces Covenant, our Report looks ahead to the appointment of the new Commissioner when the current Commissioner's appointment ends at the end of March 2014.

1   Defence Committee, Third Report of Session 2004-05, Duty of Care, HC 45, paras 423-427  Back

2   The relevant interests of the Committee's Specialist Advisers can be found in the Committee's Formal Minutes which are available on the Committee's website. Back

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Prepared 26 February 2013