Sunday 5 December 2021

On 31 March, 2021 the House of Commons Bill Committee, which was considering the latest continuation of the Armed Forces Act 2006, considered a new clause which would have created an Armed Forces Representative Body. The mover of the clause rightly pressed it to a vote, and, as expected, it was rejected by 8 votes to 7.

The drafting of a detailed clause is another milestone on the journey to an officially recognised armed forces representative body. BAFF was credited in the debate for its part in getting to this stage.

The text of the proposed clause is below. It would have been in the part of the Act which deals with "Enlistment, Terms of Service, etc".

“(1) The Armed Forces Act 2006 is amended as follows.

(2) After section 333 insert the following new clause—

‘333A Armed Forces Representative Body

In accordance with HM Government’s obligations under Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights, there is to be an Armed Forces Representative Body, existing outside the rank structure, but accountable to members and to Parliament in order to:

(a) represent personnel in matters of discipline: summary hearings, courts martial and other disciplinary hearings;

(b) aid personnel in the redress of individual grievances, and through the service complaints process;

(c) negotiate on behalf of personnel on matters relating to, but not limited to pay, terms and conditions and terms of enlistment;

(d) act as an advocate for general welfare of personnel during and immediately after their enlistment.

This Representative Body shall not have the ability to strike.’”—

This new clause would oblige the UK Government to legislate for the creation of an Armed Forces Representative Body similar to the Police Federation.

The "new clause ... owes much to the British Armed Forces Federation"

The clause was moved by Martin Docherty MP (SNP), with other SNP and Labour members speaking in support. Stephen Morgan MP (Labour) said that:

New clause 19 is designed to provide for the establishment of a federation for the armed forces. It owes much to the British Armed Forces Federation, which pioneered service representation.