Opposing a Private Member's Bill to authorise an armed forces representative body, a former defence minister argued that in addition to service charities there already are "a plethora of existing families federations across each of the services that do a very good job and exist to advocate on behalf of forces personnel and their families". [Our emphasis]
But the very fact of the forces family federations, to varying degrees, increasingly taking on an individual and collective representative role on behalf of service personnel - including single personnel - is, we would argue, proof of the need for true representation.
From the RAF Families Federation website:
Providing an independent voice
For all RAF personnel
And their families
Of course BAFF isn't arguing for the family federations to be excluded from such a representative role; we have successfully worked with them, as well as with the MoD and other stakeholders, about electoral participation in the armed forces community.
The former minister Philip Dunne MP (Con, Ludlow) also said in the debate that the Secretary of State is working through the families federations "to try to bring up to contemporary standards some of the historical garrison accommodation, some of which is not only decades old, but goes back over 100 years." This includes Single Living Accommodation (SLA).
The "Bill to create a staff association to represent the interests of members of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces as employees" had been introduced in Parliament under the short title of "Armed Forces Representative Body Bill". The Bill had its first reading in Parliament on 20th June, 2018 and, as is the way of Private Member's Bills, failed to complete its progress and therefore fell at the end of the 2017-2019 parliamentary session.
The Bill's sponsor was Martin Docherty-Hughes (SNP, West Dunbartonshire), a member of the House of Commons Defence Committee.
Expressing the hope that other parties would support his Bill, Mr Docherty-Hughes acknowledged Kevan Jones MP (Lab), who had presented an Armed Forces (Federation) Bill with similar aims nearly ten years before.
The short first-reading debate can be read here: Hansard 20th June 2018 - Armed Forces Representative Body.
Updated article, originally written 22 June 2018