Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

Uniform armed services care urged

MP Jeffrey Donaldson

The devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should issue an annual report to Parliament on efforts to support service personnel and veterans, MPs have been told.

Democratic Unionist Jeffrey Donaldson, MP for Lagan Valley, said the move was designed to ensure servicemen and women "receive the care and support they need" regardless of where in the United Kingdom they live.

His Devolved Administrations (Armed Forces Covenant Reports) Bill would place a duty on the legislatures in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast to update MPs on the operation of the military covenant.

He told the Commons: "We want to ensure that our soldiers receive the care and support that they need, when they most need it, regardless of whichever region of the United Kingdom they are located in."

Mr Donaldson added: "Whilst we cannot interfere in the day-to-day workings of the devolved administrations, nevertheless since it is Parliament that is charged with oversight of the military covenant, I believe it is right that Parliament should place a duty on the part of all the devolved administrations to report annually on what they are doing to fulfil their obligations under the military covenant.

"That reporting mechanism would enable Parliament to assess the extent to which there is not uniformity across the United Kingdom in relation to the level of care and support provided to both serving and former armed services personnel."

The Bill, which had cross-party backing, received an unopposed first reading but stands little chance of making further progress due to a lack of parliamentary time.

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