The Welsh Government voted against introducing an Armed Forces Commissioner for Wales in the Assembly today, despite calls from the Welsh Conservatives.
The introduction of a Commissioner would have created an official role specifically for ensuring that the Armed Forces Covenant is upheld. The purpose of the Covenant is to support service personnel, veterans, and their families in accessing services and providing assistance in employment, healthcare, and education.
The Cabinet Secretary for Public Services, Alun Davies AM, did not directly address his rejection of a Commissioner, but said in April that he did “not consider that the appointment of an Armed Forces Commissioner for Wales would add any further benefit or value”.
Closing the debate, Darren Millar AM stressed the junior nature of Armed Forces Liaison Officers which do not have “the clout” of a Commissioner to push the interests of armed forces personnel.
Introducing a Commissioner is Welsh Conservative policy and has been developed alongside the Cross-Party Group on Armed Forces and Cadets.
However, the Assembly did unite behind Welsh Conservative motion to welcome the Royal British Legion’s ‘Thank you 100’ campaign and honour the contribution of those who have served and continue to serve in the armed forces.
Welsh Conservative and Shadow Communities Secretary Mark Isherwood AM – who led the debate – said:
“We held this debate because we owe it to those who serve, or have served, in our Armed Forces to ensure that we do our best to uphold the Armed Forces Covenant in Wales.
“So it is bitterly disappointing to see the Welsh Labour Government reject the reasonable and deliverable position of a Commissioner who can represent the interests of servicemen and women, past and present.
“As we approach the centenary of the end of the First World War, the Welsh Conservatives really wanted to honour that legacy through introducing a champion for our brave and selfless armed forces community. Sadly, Welsh Labour decided not to.”
Notes to Editors:
The motion put forward by the Welsh Conservatives was as follows –
The National Assembly for Wales:
1. Notes that this year’s Remembrance Sunday marks the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day and the end of the First World War.
2. Welcomes the Royal British Legion’s ‘Thank you 100’, which remembers those who served, sacrificed and changed our world between 1914 and 1918.
3. Honours the contribution of those who have served and continue to serve in our armed forces.
4. Calls upon the Welsh Government to appoint an armed forces commissioner for Wales to ensure that the Armed Forces Covenant is upheld.