On a visit to HMS Ark Royal, Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged his support for the Armed Forces by announcing that the military covenant will be made law.
Mr Cameron explained that the covenant, the state’s responsibility to its Armed Forces, will be rewritten and enshrined in law for the first time.
The covenant is an informal understanding of the state’s duty of care to its Armed Forces. Until now, it has been regarded as an obligation rather than a firm rule set out in legislation.
Yesterday, Mr Cameron declared that the new Government will underline its commitment to the Armed Forces by putting it into law.
A new covenant - which will include rights to prioritised NHS treatment, decent housing and education for Service families’ children - is to be given legal force in a new Armed Services Bill.
Addressing sailors, Marines and airmen aboard Ark Royal, Mr Cameron said:
It’s time for us to rewrite the military covenant to make sure we are doing everything we can.
Whether it’s the schools you send your children to, whether it’s the healthcare that you expect, whether it’s the fact that there should be a decent military ward for anyone who gets injured.
I want all these things refreshed and renewed and written down in a new military covenant that’s written into the law of the land.
Mr Cameron also praised the courage of British Service personnel and highlighted Britain’s commitment to bringing stability to Afghanistan as he paid tribute to four British soldiers who were killed on operations.
Our hearts go out to the comrades of those who have fallen, to their families and their loved ones.
I remain absolutely committed to making sure we build up the Afghans’ own capability and security so that they can take responsibility for their country and we can come home.
During his time on HMS Ark Royal, Mr Cameron praised Royal Navy personnel as dedicated, brave and professional in tackling piracy and drug smuggling and keeping sea lanes open.
Of them, he said:
You are the noblest end of public service.
Mr Cameron toured the fleet flagship aircraft carrier in Halifax, Nova Scotia, ahead of a G20 summit in Canada.
Before Armed Forces Day tomorrow, he urged the whole country to ‘reflect on the immeasurable sacrifice and dedication that our forces have shown in this conflict’.
He asked people to ‘stand behind every one’ of our Armed Forces over this weekend.
Celebrations and events for Armed Forces Day will take place across the whole country on Saturday 26 June.