THE DUTY OF CARE for servicemen and their families remains a key priority for the SNP, according to their Westminster leader and Moray MP Angus Robertson.
With his constituency holding the highest concentration of service personnel in Scotland and one of the highest in the UK, Mr Robertson will today seek to underline the commitment of his party to making changes in the Armed Forces Bill when its second reading is debated at Westminster.
He has been setting out how the SNP will seek out these changes, proposing that a key provision of the Bill should be proper representation for service personnel within the military and with defence policy decision makers, adding that such representation should be on a “statutory basis”.
Mr Robertson said: “Here in Moray the Ministry of Defence is one of the largest employers – and like other employers they have a duty of care to their personnel and I believe that must include statutory representation.
“The duty of care to our service personnel, veterans and their families must be a key priority, and we will seek to amend the Bill to ensure that is the case in the UK.
“It was in our 2015 Manifesto and it is a commitment we are happy to live up to. In the Westminster election campaign, the British Armed Forces Federation welcomed our commitment to giving representative bodies a statutory footing and we are taking action on that promise.
“Over many years Scotland has endured disproportionate defence cuts with our service personnel, their families and communities often bearing the brunt. The case of soldiers being sacked by email, for example, was shameful.
“Scotland has what it doesn’t need, like Trident, and needs what it doesn’t have, like maritime patrol aircraft. We want to see strong and sustainable defence capabilities for Scotland that will ensure our security and support our strategic interests.
“Fair treatment and full respect for our service personnel is a vital part of that.”
The Armed Forces Bill seeks to replace the Armed Forces Act 2011 which expires in November next year. It deals with a raft of issues affecting UK Armed Forces personnel, including issues such as drugs testing and how service men and women are dealt with by civil and military courts.