04 MAR 2011

Jack Lopresti MP pays tribute to troops in Afghanistan

Speaking in the House of Commons debate yesterday on Support for UK Armed Forces and Veterans, Jack Lopresti, local MP for Filton and Bradley Stoke paid tribute to British service men and women.

Mr Lopresti said "When our armed forces personnel on operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere face paying the ultimate price in the protection of our country, its people and our freedoms and way of life, we should only ask them to do so in the knowledge that they are properly equipped for the task, that they will be trained to the highest level and that when they retire or should they be injured, wounded or indeed killed that they and their families will be provided for in recognition and admiration for the sacrifices that they made.  This is the minimum we must do to support our Armed Forces and Veterans and to me these sentiments are the basis of the Military Covenant."

Jack also welcomed the Governments moves to recognise the Military Covenant in law:

"Clause 2 of the Armed Forces Bill, is trying to do more to honour the Armed Forces Covenant and to support our troops and veterans then the last administration achieved in thirteen years.  We know from the Minister that the text of the Military Covenant will be published in the spring and that, if necessary, legislation could be used to facilitate it.

If we accept that the Military Covenant is a moral commitment and a statement of principles rather than a list of rules and regulations and a job creation scheme for lawyers, then in my mind this Armed Forces Bill does in fact go a long way towards enshrining the notion of the Armed Forces Covenant into law.

The Bill provides a statutory recognition to the Covenant for the first time; it ensures that both the Parliament and Government of the day are forced to continue to address this most important issue.  It demands in law that the Secretary of State of the day must present to Parliament every year an Armed Forces Covenant Report on the effect of membership of the Armed Forces on Service personnel, their dependants and veterans in the UK.  Furthermore, the effect on healthcare, education and housing are specifically listed and for an examination of "such other fields as the Secretary of State may determine"

In a debate that saw cross-party agreement for the support of the Armed Forces Jack said:

"Our commitment to the welfare and aftercare of our service personnel must be unwavering and I believe that this is the goal of all sides of this House.  I believe that the best way we can honour this commitment is through the steps the Government is taking to restore the Military Covenant."

Jack is a serving reservist and in 2008 was deployed on Operation Herrick 9 in Afghanistan attached to 29 Commando.  Jack has wished his fellow service men good luck on their imminent deployment back to the country:

"The mighty men of 29 Commando are going back out to Helmand shortly and I hope that they have a great tour and all come back safely.  I wish I was going with them."

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