Labour Wants 'Duty Of Care' Clause Added To Overseas Operations Bill

The shadow defence secretary said the bill should "do more to support British troops".

The Labour Party has proposed amendments to the Government’s Overseas Operations Bill, including the introduction of a 'duty of care' clause. 

Shadow defence secretary, John Healey MP, told Forces News personnel tied up in long-running investigations have told him they've felt ‘cast adrift’ by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and he wants the bill to "do more to support British troops and less to do with protecting the MOD".

The suggested amendments, put forward at committee stage this afternoon, include the necessity for a new standard of legal and wellbeing support to be given to personnel and veterans under investigation or litigation, and the requirement for the Defence Secretary to publish any failures to do so each year. 

The changes are now being debated by MPs.

Watch: Shadow defence secretary John Healey speaks to Forces News.

The MOD said the Overseas Operations Bill aims to protect troops from "vexatious claims and endless investigations".  

In its current form, the legislation includes the introduction of a statutory presumption against prosecution, making it exceptional for personnel to be prosecuted five years or more after an incident that took place during overseas operations. 

Mr Healey said he believes the bill could also create a "total block" on personnel injured overseas making claims against the department after six years, saying it would "leave British forces and personnel with fewer rights than prisoners". 

The Government maintains compensation for troops will not be blocked under the legislation.