Sunday, July 21, 2024
The Union Flag on the shoulder of a camouflage jacket

UPDATE 19 Oct: The MOD has now agreed that defence personnel can submit evidence to this inquiry. BAFF welcomes this decision.

We previously reported that:

The Chair of the Defence Sub-Committee inquiring into Service Accommodation has condemned as "fundamentally wrong" the MoD decision to ban serving personnel from contributing to the inquiry. He might have a point.

BAFF said on this website on 23 July:

The inquiry covers single as well as family accommodation, so it's important that the sub-committee receives evidence about both.

We hope that the Ministry of Defence will make it clear, as they have done occasionally in the past, that serving personnel are free to submit evidence to this enquiry without any question of repercussions.

There are longstanding restrictions on contact between members of the armed forces and parliamentarians: Under the provisions of 2019DIN05-14 Contact with Parliamentarians, serving members of the armed forces may not communicate with parliamentarians without specific prior authorisation.

(And we hear that new rules have recently been introduced which require the Secretary of State's prior authorisation for even being in the same room as a politician, if on duty.)

A limited exception is made to allow individual personnel to have contact with their own MP on personal issues. The MoD also exceptionally allowed female service personnel to respond to the inquiry on Women in the Armed Forces.

It would seem reasonable for an inquiry into an accommodation service to hear directly from the actual users of that service.

Submissions to the inquiry were originally due by 1 September 2023, but the Parliament website shows that they are still accepting evidence.

Following the MOD decision, the sub-committee chair said:

Despite the Secretary of State’s decision, we have received several submissions from serving personnel, and we may receive more. Submissions made by serving personnel can be expected to be treated confidentially. Whilst we cannot reference them directly in our eventual Report, their input will be valuable in informing our work.

— Robert Courts MP, Chairman, Defence Sub-Committee on Service Accommodation.

Also, the MoD can't prevent civilian partners in SFA from making submissions.

Finally, I understand that BAFF at this point hasn't made a submission, but would still be willing to forward anonymously submissions from verified members.

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