Armed forces act

Status of the bill: Enacted

Main purpose of the bill:

"To continue the Armed Forces Act 2006; to amend that Act and other enactments relating to the armed forces and the Ministry of Defence Police; to amend the Visiting Forces Act 1952; to enable judge advocates to sit in civilian courts; to repeal the Naval Medical Compassionate Fund Act 1915; and for connected purposes."

Main points of the bill:

Renews the Armed Forces Act 2006 for a further period ending not later than the end of 2016. (For constitutional reasons an Armed Forces Bill is required every five years.)

Requires the Secretary of State to issue an annual covenant report to Parliament on the effects of the armed forces on its members and former members, in particular in relation to their health and welfare.

Requires the Provost Marshal (head) of a service police force to ensure that investigations are free from improper interference.

Provides for the Provost Marshal to be appointed by Her Majesty in order to highlight the independence of the Provost Marshal from the chain of command. (Only provost officers are eligible for appointment as a Provost Marshal.)

Provides for Her Majesty's Inspectors of Constabulary (HMIC) to inspect and report to the Secretary of State on the independence and effectiveness of service police force investigations.

Enables the Secretary of State to make regulations for dealing with underperformance by members of the Ministry of Defence Police in line with Home Office police forces.

Provides for a judge advocate to issue a warrant authorising a service policeman to enter and search one or more sets of premises or any relevant residential premises specified in the application.

Enables the Secretary of State to make provision for a service policeman to obtain access to excluded material on relevant residential premises, or to obtain access to material (other than items subject to legal privilege) on premises other than relevant residential premises.

Provides for service personnel to be tested for alcohol or drugs where a commanding officer reasonably believes the ability to perform a duty is impaired with consequent serious safety risks.

Provides for a commanding officer to impose detention punishment on lance corporals (a new rank) in the RAF Regiment and enables a commanding officer to combine the punishment of service detention with reduction in rank.

Provides for changes to Court Martial sentencing powers.

Removes the geographical limit of the Service Civilian Court enabling the Court to sit in the United Kingdom or elsewhere.

Enables a commanding officer to use administrative processes to reduce a warrant officer or non-commissioned officer by more than one rank or rate.

Provides for changes to the process of complaints brought by service personnel.

Provides for changes relating to civilians subject to service jurisdiction.

Amends the Visiting Forces Act 1952 in relation to the handling of claims arising from the activities of visiting armed forces.

Enables judge advocates to sit in the Crown Court and magistrates' courts.

Amends legislation relating to military byelaws.

Repeals the Naval Medical Compassionate Fund Act 1915.

Progress of the bill:

The Armed Forces Bill was included in the Queen's Speech on 25th May 2010.

First Reading: 08.12.10 Second Reading: 10.01.11 Committee Debate: 10.02.11 15.02.11 17.02.11 14.06.11 Third Reading: 16.06.11                                                             

Lords:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        First Reading: 16.06.11  Second Reading: 06.07.11 Committee Stage: 06.09.11  08.09.11 Report Stage: 04.10.11 Third Reading: 10.10.11

Ping Pong: 19.10.11 26.10.11  Royal Assent: 03.11.11

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