MPs to hold talks on troop discrimination
02 July 2012
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has agreed to take part in cross-party talks looking at ways of ending discrimination against members of the armed forces, it has been announced.
Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy wrote to Hammond to request the talks after it emerged that members of the armed forces were still being refused service or insulted while wearing their uniforms in public.
Labour is calling for any talks to include discussion of possible legal protections for members of the forces, veterans and their families, with an emphasis on discrimination in the areas of housing and employment as well as harassment and abuse.
Hammond said he would "welcome" cross-party talks but has apparently ruled out creating new laws, writing in his response that "education rather than legislation will be the most effective way to combat discrimination".
‪Murphy said that he would "work hard to ensure these talks are meaningful".
"This is an important step forward on a crucial issue," he said. "We can all unite around the goal of ensuring no-one suffers disadvantage as a result of service.
‪"Government ministers are good at talking but action is what matters. We believe everything should be on the table, including the option of legal protections, which could make a real difference."
A Private Members' Bill on the issue is due to be brought before the House of Commons early next year.