Royal Marines Experience Gave Commons Speaker 'Real Understanding' Of Military

The Speaker of the House of Commons has told Forces News that engaging in an initiative for politicians brought him closer to the Armed Forces.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, elected as an MP in 1997 and now an Honorary Colonel, said he got to grips with forces life during a seven-week stint alongside the Royal Marines.

As part of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme, Mr Hoyle says he got a "real understanding" of the challenges facing personnel – an insight he would like other representatives to share.

"I thought 'I want to get some real experience, I want to get a real understanding of what our Armed Forces have to put up with'," he recalled.

"It was seven weeks that I believe was of great value to me.

"I went out to Norway with the Arctic training, I went up beyond the Arctic Circle," Sir Lindsay added.

"To sleep in a tent at minus 30, I never thought I’d actually do that – I’ve got to say, I can’t stand the cold."

The Armed Forces Parliamentary programme aims to give MPs an education which they can carry to defence debates, after meeting various elements of a chosen service.

To graduate, they must complete a minimum of 15 days during a year.

Often with no Armed Forces experience, Mr Hoyle says developing MPs' contributions to military discussion is the least decision-makers can do.

A Royal Marine training in the Arctic Circle, where Sir Lindsay Hoyle joined the amphibious force (Picture: Royal Navy).
A Royal Marine training in the Arctic Circle, where Sir Lindsay Hoyle joined the amphibious force in 1998 (Picture: Royal Navy).

"Wherever you represent in this country, there are people from your constituency who have served or are serving in our Armed Forces," he said.

"The least we should do is get a real understanding of it and I think part of that is the experience of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme.

"You couldn’t make it compulsory, but I’d certainly like to," he added.

His passion for the Armed Forces has seen successful bids for memorials in Mr Hoyle’s Chorley constituency, while a winning bid saved the town's historic First World War Territorial Army centre.

His work led to his appointment as the Army's 3 Medical Regiment's Honorary Colonel.

Continuing to champion the military, Mr Hoyle says the role it has played in the UK's Foot and Mouth outbreak, and more recently battle against coronavirus, has helped to bridge a "disconnect" between the forces and civilian life.

Ahead of the pending Integrated Review on defence, security, and foreign policy, the politically neutral figure said the conclusions must not forget the people at the heart of the services.

"Whether it’s the opposition or the Government, it is about the serving personnel that we have, that should always be at the foremost of any review," he said.