23 Oct 14. Defence Committee – ARMED FORCES (SERVICE COMPLAINTS AND FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE) BILL. Forces Ombudsman should have further powers, says Defence Committee. The Government must establish a more truly independent complaints process in the Armed Services, says the Defence Committee in its report. The report is a response to the Armed Forces (Service Complaints and Financial Assistance) Bill. The Committee has welcomed the proposals for the new Service Complaints Ombudsman, and argues it will strengthen independent oversight and streamline the complaints process. But, the committee argues, the Bill does not go far enough.
Chair of the Committee, Rory Stewart MP, says “It is vital that any future Ombudsman is seen by Service personnel as being entirely independent. The MoD’s proposals will leave it still too closely involved in controlling the Ombudsman’s investigations. We would like wider power for the Ombudsman, and clearer guarantees of genuine independence. This will not undermine the chain of command, it will build confidence in it.”
Madeleine Moon MP, a member of the Committee, added “The changes proposed by the Committee also address the problem of delays in handling Service complaints. The Bill and our proposed changes will encourage the Services to resolve problems in swifter and more effective ways.”
The Committee has proposed a number of amendments to the Bill, including: expanding the Ombudsman’s powers to investigate not simply ‘maladministration’ and injustice but also the substance of the complaint; making the Ombudsman’s recommendations binding; allowing the Ombudsman to initiate thematic reviews; and clarifying the structures for independent oversight of the Service Police.
The Committee believes that these amendments will strengthen the Ombudsman and increase transparency, accountability and fairness in the complaints system. They will further enshrine the independence of the Ombudsman, rebuild the confidence of Armed Forces personnel in the system, and equip the Ombudsman with a suite of powers to ensure that they could act as a custodian of a complaints system, which is truly efficient, effective and fair. The UK’s Armed Forces deserve no less.
House of Commons Debates 20 October 2014
Maritime Support Delivery Framework
1. David Morris (Morecambe and Lunesdale) (Con): What assessment he has made of the effect of the maritime support delivery framework on employment at UK naval bases. 
Neil Parish (Tiverton and Honiton) (Con): What assessment he has made of the effect of the maritime support delivery framework on employment at UK naval bases. 
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Mr Philip Dunne): The maritime support delivery framework contracts are an excellent example of the contribution that the Ministry of Defence makes to sustaining the long-term economic health of the nation’s three main naval bases. The contracts total £3.2 billion of spending by the Royal Navy over five years with BAE Systems and Babcock, and will sustain about 7,500 jobs, up to 4,000 of them at Devonport and more than 2,000 at Portsmouth, and about 1,500 at Clyde.
David Morris: Can my hon. Friend confirm that there is actual funding in the project, that it is sustainable, and that, unlike the Labour party, we will not leave a black hole in military defence?
Mr Dunne: Yes, I can certainly assure my hon. Friend that these contracts are an integral part of the Department’s innovative 10-year forward equipment plan. Not only are they in the plan, but they represent far better value for money for the taxpayer than the previous support arrangements by securing more than £350 million of savings. As my right hon. Friend the Defence Secretary said last month, the last Government left a terrible legacy of waste and mismanagement in the form of a £38 billion black hole in defence, which this Government have eliminated through our long-term plan for defence and improving the effi