Saturday 28 May 2022

In 1994 Michael (later Sir Michael) Bett QC was appointed by the Secretary of State for Defence to head an "Independent Review of the Armed Forces' Manpower, Career and Remuneration Structures". The Bett Review report - "Managing People in Tomorrow's Armed Forces" - included a section on Representation.

In a survey of serving personnel, conducted by the Review team at a time of some concern for the future, 66% of respondents had agreed either strongly or slightly with a statement that the Services would benefit from a representative organisation. The report stated that:

We have not been able to ignore a growing strength of feeling, apparent on our visits and in the responses to our survey, that the time may be approaching when some form of representation outside the chain of command may be required... We have ... examined the practices of other Armed Forces, and have concluded that it is possible for a wide variety of forms of representation to operate usefully, and in harmony with the chain of command. That said, we have also found some representative structures which are largely ineffective or enjoy little support.

The report made no recommendations on the subject of collective representation, concluding that:

It must be for Servicemen themselves, if they so desire, to argue the case for an organisation to represent their collective concerns and to discuss what the role of such an organisation might be, and how it might function. This is an issue which should be freely debated within the services.