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Bishops: Government must not betray its moral duty to troops

According to The Sunday Telegraph (04 Sep), Church of England Bishops are set to warn ministers that plans to care for the armed forces do not go far enough:

The Church of England is to make a rare direct political intervention in the House of Lords this week over legislation to enshrine the "military covenant" in law.

The proposals will guarantee soldiers that their sacrifice is honoured by provisions including council tax rebates for those on operations, extra NHS help for the injured and free bus travel for those who have been wounded.

But senior bishops, who are backed by former chief of the army staff General the Lord Dannatt, say that the scheme needs to go further.

Under the current plans, the Military Covenant will be made law, but the Ministry of Defence would be solely responsible for governing the level of care given to troops.

They will say that it should not be up to ministers to decide how to meet the "covenant" - the acceptance that the state owes a duty of care to the people it puts in the line of fire.
The Rt Rev Stephen Platten, the Bishop of Wakefield, will move an amendment to the Armed Forces Bill in the House of Lords on Tuesday, arguing for the Government to set up an independent review of the welfare needs of serving armed forces personnel.

The bishop, who is the Church of England's spokesman on international security, said it wanted to see independent scrutiny of the level of care.

"It isn't appropriate for the Government to be responsible for judging on the health of the covenant as it is extremely difficult for the secretary of defence to exercise an entirely objective role," he said. ...

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