ARCHIVE RETRIEVAL ‘COSTS’ VETERANS’ RECOGNITION
The cost of archive retrieval of personal records, put out to contract at £25.00 a time, has been responsible for the failure of Government to recognise millions of veterans.
Whilst the Nation was commemorating 100 years since the beginning of the First World War and reaffirming their promise that ‘we will never forget’, the government chose to bury the bad news that a National Defence Medal (NDM) would not be awarded to all those servicemen and women who had kept the Nation, its territories and its interests safe and secure since the ending of the Second World War as it would cost too much.
In 2008 David Cameron, promised a review of all outstanding military medal claims and that the Honours and Decorations Committee, responsible for making recommendations on the institution of medals, would become more transparent. As Prime Minister he directed, in 2011, the Ministry of Defence to carry out the long over due medal review.
The review turned down all medal submissions which stretched back over 65 years, including medallic recognition of the Arctic Convoy and Bomber Command veterans. Freedom of Information Act requests by NDM campaigners discredited the review, showing it had been a paper exercise, carried out over just two weeks and without speaking to a single veteran. The Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister were unimpressed and directed Sir John Holmes, a retired diplomat, reporting to the Cabinet Office, to carry out a fresh independent medal review.
Sir John made a point of speaking to all chairmen of the numerous medal campaign groups and in his first report (June 2012) he recommended to the Prime Minister that the NDM was worthy of further study and the complete medal system be more open and transparent. This paved the way for the old rules governing medals to be updated and the award of the Arctic Convoy medal and Bomber Command medal clasp to be agreed.
Although Sir John’s final report was completed in December 2013, it was not published and has still not been made public. Two meetings of the Honours and Decorations Committee subsequently followed but with a total lack of transparency.
Finally, eight months after Sir John had submitted his ‘secret’ recommendations, a Government statement was made on the 29 July 2014 in the House of Lords, the day before they left for their summer holidays, and a week after the MPs had left for their summer recess. The HD Committee had evidently not been persuaded that a strong case could be made at this time for the institution of the NDM and it was too costly. Debate and questions in the House on a sensitive matter had been avoided.
Despite the PM’s wish that the HD committee deliberations be more transparent, they were not, and Sir John’s review over two years had in the end been little better than the previous discredited MoD two week review. All veteran medal campaigning groups had again been kept totally in the dark, had no idea how the decisions had been made by the HD committee or the case that had been placed before them and consequently no opportunity to appeal. It had become yet another discredited review despite all of Sir John’s enthusiasm and hard work.
There is no doubt that the NDM campaign has been well executed, its case extremely strong, and has received enthusiastic support from the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg; the leader of UKIP Nigel Farrage and indeed the institution of the NDM is the party policy of both the Liberal Democrats and UKIP. In addition, the award of the NDM had been one of the most well supported ‘Early Day Motions’ in Parliament.
Despite much support from a grateful Nation and political support for those who have kept the Nation and its interests safe and secure for nearly 70 years, £8.50 per medal was deemed a ‘price too far’ for the Government. The high costs paid to civilian contractors for the archive retrieval system had scuppered those who had kept the Nation safe and secure. This is disappointing especially as Danny Alexander prior to becoming the First Secretary to the Treasury wrote,
“I strongly agree that the work, dedication and skill of all our former service personnel should be recognised formally. The introduction of a National Defence Medal would ensure that our veterans are given the respect they deserve and are no longer forgotten heroes.”
Sadly, seven years campaigning by NDM activists has seen many die or become infirmed and this is mirrored across the veteran community. A letter I received this week from a 76 year old veteran was particularly poignant,
“I have campaigned for many years but now see no prospect of an NDM in my life time. It disappoints the hell out of me. I am now prepared to die unadorned alongside thousands of others who will suffer the same disillusionment and disappointment. I have a wife who is now fully dependent on me and I must conserve my faculties and strength – goodbye folks.”
During the coming days I will write to the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister to seek their explanation as to why a case that has been proved to be so strong for recognition of millions of this Nation’s veterans, can be turned down on what appears to be the false calculations of cost by the MoD, even a former Armed Forces Minister, Sir Nick Harvey says the MoD have got it wrong?. Why is it an alternative to the £25.00 a time archive retrieval system the Government has set in place cannot be considered, there are plenty of former service personnel from a ‘Can Do’ society waiting to be asked to become involved? Why is the call for greater transparency that they and Sir John Holmes have openly embraced been ignored and a two year medal review become discredited?
By Colonel Terry Scriven (rtd)
Co-Chairman of the National Defence Medal Campaign
A new campaign has been started on the forces Reunited website:
It is another tool we can use to assist ensuring the message reaches as wide an audience, we do of course wish it well.
It can help if publicised enough, remember we have limited resources to get the word about. However, we encourage all visitors to the site to click on the link and spend a couple of minutes registering, it is free.
It is worth pointing out to doubters that the cost of the medal will be minimal to the public purse if the Government follow our suggestions.
Follow us on twitter: @NDM_UK
THE GOVERNMENT’S (MoD) MEDAL REVIEW - UK NDM COMMENTS
You may recall that as a result of the efforts by the Chairmen of the National Defence Medal Campaign the Ministry of Defence Medal review, part of the Coalition Government’s commitment, to rebuild the broken Military Covenant, was discredited. This resulted in both the Prime Minister and his Deputy refusing to endorse the review report and it being returned to the Ministry of Defence to consult with veterans.
The Ministry of Defence have still failed to consult but sent the findings of its discredited report to representatives of the various Medal campaigns for comment. The NDM submitted their comments (NDM comments document), it also recommended that the Medal review be reconstituted under an independent chair, it widens it’s terms of reference, consults widely with stakeholders including veterans, it takes into account recommendations by the Military Covenant Commission’s report and fulfils the Conservative Party’s election manifesto commitment and that of the Coalition Government.
Where are we now?
The closing date for comments was 30th June and the NDM campaign comments met that deadline. In addition to them being sent to the MoD review team, copies were sent to and have been received by the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Defence. Unfortunately despite our requests, there is still no information in respect of the process for reviewing the comments submitted. Indeed, since the submission of the NDM campaign comments, over three weeks ago (24thJune), there has been no correspondence from the Ministry of Defence on the matter.
The NDM campaign team have however continued to be active. There have been responses to our various Freedom of Information Act requests: we now know from the Service Personnel & Veterans Agency that records of all those who have been issued with the MoD veterans identification lapel badge are not held; we know from the Cabinet Office that they and the Honours and Decorations Committee hold no information on the extension of the ‘Five Year rule from covering gallantry awards to all medals awarded to the Armed Forces as previously claimed by the Ministry of Defence.
The Ministry of Defence are still claiming, despite evidence to the contrary, that the terms of reference they set for the Medal review were in accordance with the Coalition’s Programme for Government. Interestingly, the MoD have not replied to an FOI request in respect of the remit the Coalition Government gave them to carry out the Medal Review; we will continue to push for an answer. For the first time we now have in writing, which is surprising in this era of greater government transparency, that the MoD considered there was no requirement to formally announce the commencement of the Medal review or publish the terms of reference.
Through the work of the NDM campaign the Medal Review is still very much alive. In response to one newspaper in the last few days (The NEWS) a Ministry of Defence spokesperson stated, “It could take many months until the review is finally settled. We are working with veterans. The review is on going and there is no date for when it will end.”
The case for the UK National Defence Medal is substantial. Both our Chairmen and I have offered to work with the Ministry of Defence to help take this Medal Review forward and regardless how long it takes we will continue to press for a reconstituted review, which is independently chaired and consults broadly.
Arnold Schwartzman, OBE, RDI, FRSA. Patron UK National Defence Medal Campaign
Pre 16th May 2011
The background and arguments on the case for certain medals, such as the institution of
a National Defence Medal, are well known and understood by Ministers and officials
and will be fully considered. At this time, I do not believe there is a requirement for
further consultation during this review." The review is complete the conclusions should be announced shortly after Easter.
Post 16th May 2011
A draft medal review has now been completed by the Ministry of Defence. In line with the Government's Transparency Agenda, the relevant elements of the report will shortly be sent to representatives of the various medal campaign groups, including for the National Defence Medal, that have pressed in recent years for recognition for service which they consider has gone unacknowledged. This will provide an opportunity for us to consider the views of the various campaign groups up to the 30th June 2011.
This was NOT consultation, the review was COMPLETE. There are to be no revised Terms of Reference, no independent chair, or even any suggestion that one word of the review completed back in January will be changed.
NDM Motion Unanimously Passed
Well done to the Col. Terry Scriven (Rtd) for delivering such a passionate and moving speech at the LibDem conference in Liverpool. As the opening motion of the event all eyes were on Terry, but the pressure did not show. Then one after another the other speakers took turns in reinforcing the message. The conference unanimously passed the motion. A fantastic result, and a clear message to the nation and the Government.
Welcome to the UK National Defence Medal (NDM) campaign homepage.
The site will give you an insight into why we are demanding full official recognition for our proud Sailors, Marines, Soldiers and Airmen who have protected our nation through all types of political turmoil since the Second World War.
It is our belief that an NDM is a reasonable and proper way for the nation to demonstrate to all HM Armed Forces that their service is appreciated. A small token of recognition for putting themselves at the mercy of the Country's leaders in the hope it will act in the citizens best interests. A medal that can be "officially" worn on parade with pride.
The Veterans Badge is an unofficial MoD offering and it's purpose is different from the NDM. We see it however, as a first step to proper recognition.
"There's nothing more important to troops than a medal - they are incredibly emotive and they mean the world to soldiers.”
Patrick Mercer, MP for Newark, and former infantry commander – Daily Telegraph 19/04/2008
Early Day Motion (EDM327)
Although the EDM is now closed it can still be used as evidence to new parliamentarians as to the level of political support. Post election we will all need to re-engage our Members of Parliament to remind them of their promises.
The new Government should signal the start of a process that finally leads to the House of Commons doing the right thing. As our representatives, their role is to give us a voice and take up our grievances. Refusal to properly engage and act is no less than a dereliction of their duty.
EDM327 reached 184 Signatures!
The shame surrounding the MOD has increased since they made the decision not to recognise the service of the millions of Servicemen and women who have become our ‘Forgotten Heroes’ by the award of a National Defence medal.
This comes at a time of great outpouring of support for our Armed Services by the public and a professed support for restoring the military covenant by the Government and the leaders of all political parties.
Evidence of appropriate recognition for the award of a medal and not just a badge to those who have served in the Armed Forces since the end of the Second World War is overwhelming. The reasons for non-recognition are shallow at best.
The lack of recognition of our ‘Forgotten Heroes’ includes service in Korea (post armistice); the Berlin Airlift; the Cold War, where hundreds of our service men and women died on duty and many more were discharged as a result of their injuries; the IRA atrocities outside of Northern Ireland which saw our soldiers killed and maimed on the streets of Germany and in England, and of course National Service veterans who are now in their 70s and 80s; the list is endless.
Colonel Terry Scriven, Co-Chairman of the National Defence Medal campaign said, “The MOD’s decision is dreadfully wrong. I hope that as this campaign grows with public support the Government, whose responsibility it is to decide on a medal of recognition of service, will speedily review this situation just as they did with the Ghurkha campaign.
FORCES sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn has got behind a veteran campaigners quest for medal recognition for all members of the armed forces. Roy Wilson wants a National Defence Medal (NDM) created for everyone who has served in the armed forces since the end of the Second World War.
The British Government has never considered service in the Armed Forces as the sole justification for an honour.
The liaison officer for National Service Veterans Association charmed the 92-year-old wartime songstress at the London Poppy Appeal launch, in Horse Guards Parade, in central
The whole NDM team wish to thank Roy, Dave and Eddie for their amazing effort.
An enthusiastic and successful march to
Petition to say THANKS
Please sign our petition Thanking our Armed Forces, and requesting they are properly Honoured (Almost 2000 signatures so far).
Sorry petition now closed !!
As a former National Serviceman who served with the RAEC at
Read the full letter, Click Here.
Archaic honours and awards system
The National Defence Medal campaign exposes the gross injustice by this government towards those both willing and called upon to defend the freedoms which they and everyone else enjoys. Whilst other Commonwealth countrys' are now striking medals for their brave and dedicated service personnel in recognition of their service and for the sacrifices, the
By A. Davies (click on image for full article)