independent professional staff association for UK forces personnel

Video of Military Covenant announcement in House of Commons

A BBC Democracy Live report of Dr Fox's statement on 16 May includes video of the announcement:

Defence Secretary Liam Fox has confirmed that the nation's covenant with the armed forces will be outlined in legislation for the first time.

In a Commons statement on 16 May 2011, Dr Fox said amendments to the Armed Forces Bill would provide "a simple and timeless statement of the moral obligation that we owe" to the military.

But he warned that the government would need to be "careful" to make sure that the military was not "permanently involved" in court cases.

Dr Fox also announced a series of new measures to support the armed forces.

A fund of £3m a year to support state schools attended by significant numbers of children from armed forces families, he said.

Up to £30m will be made available over the next four years to support local joint projects between service or veterans' groups and the wider community, he added.

Dr Fox also announced that veterans who have suffered genital injuries will be guaranteed access to three cycles of IVF, wherever they live.

And the government will double the rate of council tax relief to 50% for personnel serving overseas.

Labour welcomed the pledge to enshrine the principles of the military covenant in law but said ministers were "doing the right thing for entirely the wrong reason".

Shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy claimed that ministers were facing a defeat in the Commons over their decision not to include the covenant in the Armed Forces Bill initially.

He said: "Today's announcement, while welcome, is not an act of conviction from the government but an act of submission to the parliamentary arithmetic that was building against them."

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