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The Armed Forces (Service Complaints and Financial Assistance) Bill (HL) 2013-14 had its Second Reading in the House of Commons on 2 February and Third Reading on 9 March 2015. The Bill completed its House of Lords stages on 20 October 2014.

The intention of the Bill is to reform the Service Complaints System, streamline the internal appeals process and strengthen independent oversight by converting the role of the current Service Complaints Commissioner into a Service Complaints Ombudsman. The Bill amends the Armed Forces Act 2006, the primary Act dealing with complaints within the Armed Forces.

The Bill also includes a power to make payments to charities, benevolent organisations and others for the benefit of the armed forces community.

Committee stage in the Commons took place on 10 February 2015. The Government was defeated in two votes on amendments tabled on behalf of the Defence Committee. The amendments will significantly widen the investigative scope of the Ombudsman and will enable the Ombudsman to investigate a service complaint, any maladministration in the handling of a service complaint, and an allegation of inappropriate delay. The amendments amend clause 2. The Government introduced amendments at Report Stage to reflect the changes agreed in Committee. These were agreed without division.

New technical Government amendments concerning transitional arrangements and amendments to Northern Ireland legislation clarifying how the new service complaints provisions will interact with certain complaints to an industrial tribunal in Northern Ireland were accepted at Committee Stage.

The Bill completed its stages in the House of Commons on 9 March 2015. The Bill is scheduled to go to the House of Lords for consideration on 16 March 2015.

This note has been updated following Third Reading.

Library Research Paper Armed Forces (Service Complaints and Financial Assistance) Bill RP 15/5 provides background on the proposals in the Bill.

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