The Armed Forces Bill is a bill to continue the Armed Forces Act 2006; to amend that Act and other enactments relating to the armed forces; to make provision about service in the reserve forces; to make provision about pardons for certain abolished service offences; to make provision about war pensions; and for connected purposes.
Andrews contribution to the debate on 9th February 2021 can be viewed via Twitter here - https://twitter.com/i/status/1359097505917657088
Or read in text format below;
"It isn’t often that the professionalism and adaptability of our men and women of our armed forces are witnessed up close by the British people.
Occasionally we see our armed services step in to support communities suffering natural disasters. I remember the Green Goddesses deployed during the 2002 fire service strike.
But, thankfully, in our country, the sight of armed service personnel being deployed on our streets is few and far between. Far more often, the skills and determination of our Sailors, Marines, Soldiers and Airmen are used overseas to protect British interests, defend and support our allies and assist those in need around the world.
This year has been different. Since this awful pandemic hit Britain, we have seen the very best of the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force here, at home. Their commitment and professionalism there for all the British people to see.
The enemy may not be the traditional kind. We are not asking our troops to face foreign combatants. Nevertheless, it is an enemy we must defeat. A foe that threatens our way of life. Covid cannot be allowed to win
That is why it is right that the skills of our armed forces are at the forefront of our battle. Since March last year, the MOD has responded to 304 COVID-19 Military Aid to Civilian Authority requests.
As of 5 February 2021, there were 5,000 military personnel committed to assist with 69 open COVID-19 MACA requests.
There are around 14,000 personnel on standby as part of the Winter Preparedness Package who can be called upon for COVID-19 tasks.
The Armed Forces are supporting NHS efforts to vaccinate priority groups in England, Wales and Scotland.
In Scotland, this includes around 150 military personnel including soldiers from the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards who supporting NHS Scotland to set up and operate vaccination centres including the Vaccination Hub at P&J Live in Aberdeen.
They have delivered vaccines to Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands.
From assisting in planning with the devolved administrations, to supporting our NHS on the ground to running testing centres around our country, our armed forces are at the tip of the spear of our attack on coronavirus, and when we beat it, as we will, it will be in no small part due to the professionalism and dedication of our men and women in uniform.
And all this, whilst continuing to defend and protect the British interest and that of our allies in Afghanistan, the Baltics, Belize, Brunei, Canada, Cyprus, the Falklands, Iceland, Germany, Gibraltar, Iraq, Mali, Somalia, in the Red Sea and the Gulf, the South Atlantic and Antarctic, across the North Atlantic and in the Mediterranean, maintaining our continuous at sea deterrent, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, every year, since 1965 and, now, of course, more important than ever, monitoring Space.
Which is why it apt that the Armed Forces Bill is scheduled for today- and in this year, the tenth anniversary of the Armed Forces Covenant. For we should never forget the sacrifices that all of those who volunteer to serve give in order to defend our nation and protect the British people.
Today this Bill’s primary purpose is to renew the Armed Forces Act 2006, update and improve the Service Justice System, and, importantly, it delivers on the Government’s commitment to enshrine the Armed Forces Covenant into law.
Focusing on healthcare, housing and education, by enshrining the Armed Forces Covenant into law we will increase awareness among public bodies of the unique nature of military service, improving the level of service for members of the armed forces community, no matter where in the UK they live.
I hope the house is united this afternoon in paying tribute to our armed forces, thanking them for their in recommitting our promise to them through the covenant, that together we acknowledge and understand that those who serve or who have served in the armed forces, and their families, should be treated with fairness and respect in the communities, economy and society they serve with their lives."