Prime Minister David Cameron has announced plans to write the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant into law.
The Armed Forces Covenant refers to the mutual obligations between the nation and its Armed Forces. It sets out what safeguards, rewards and compensation military personnel can expect in return for military service - and the risks and hardships that can involve.
In July 2010 David Cameron asked Professor Hew Strachan, a military historian at Oxford University, to lead an independent task force to develop innovative ideas to support the aim of enshrining the covenant in law for the first time.
The Covenant Task Force published its report in December 2010.
Speaking over the weekend, the Prime Minister said:
The high esteem we all have for our armed forces will soon be given the recognition it deserves - as part of the law of the land.
The historic agreement we have reached means that, for the first time, the value we place on those brave men and women who put their lives on the line will be written down for all to see.
I am proud to be delivering the promise I made on the Ark Royal nearly a year ago. But, more than anything, I am delighted for the people for whom this will make a big difference.
The announcement was welcomed by the Royal British Legion who described it as “an historic breakthrough”.
Under the plans, an annual review of the Armed Forces Covenant will be prepared by the Defence Secretary for Parliament under the independent scrutiny of members of an External Reference Group, which includes The Royal British Legion.
The Prime Minister also announced a Covenant support package as well as a new Armed Forces Community Covenant scheme that will be introduced to support action by local communities to support Armed Forces and veterans.
In addition, a new Veteran’s Card will be introduced, based on an expansion of the existing Defence Discount Directory scheme.
Families will also benefit from a new fund to support schools with a large number of pupils from Armed Forces families, while Council Tax Relief will be increased from 25% to 50% for personnel serving on operations.
New powers will be introduced in the Ministry of Justice to improve the military inquest system.
The PM said:
If we are asking our armed forces to do dangerous job in places like Afghanistan and Iraq, we have to ensure we are doing all we can for them in return.
Defence Secretary Liam Fox will make a statement on the Armed Forces Covenant to the House of Commons this afternoon.