Stephen Gilbert to introduce Bill calling for National Defence Medal

St Austell and Newquay Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Gilbert will introduce a Ten Minute Rule Bill into the House of Commons today, Armistice Day. He seeks to shame the Government into awarding a National Defence Medal to all veterans of the Armed Forces who served for more than two years whether they saw armed conflict or not.

He talked to the Sunday Telegraph about why he thinks this is important:

Stephen Gilbert, the MP for St Austell and Newquay, told The Sunday Telegraph: “I am presenting it in Parliament on Armistice Day and as much as anything I want to shame the powers that be into looking again at this issue.”

He criticised ministers for accepting the review’s decision to block plans for the National Defence Medal and said that its introduction will be Liberal Democrat manifesto at the next general election.

He said: “Of course we need to recognise those people who do see active service but simply putting on a uniform and giving yourself to the country should be also something that is recognised.

“It is very mean-spirited of the Government only to address some of the claims of those veterans who have seen conflict and completely ignores those hundreds of thousands of people who chose to serve their country at a time when there may not have been conflict.

“Their choice to serve is no less impressive and worthy than those people who did see conflict.”

We will update this post with his speech in Parliament later.


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  • matt (Bristol) 11th Nov '14 - 12:49pm

    “simply putting on a uniform and giving yourself to the country should be also something that is recognised.”

    Er, no.

    Simply putting on a uniform and giving yourself to the country as a care worker doesn’t seem to be recognised. Why should it be different when they put a gun in your hand, but no-one ever shoots at you because you never serve in an active conflict?

    Cross-reference to this past thread:

  • As an ex serviceman I firmly beleive the issue of a National Defence Medal to all servicemen is something that should be looked at properly by govt, not like the way the claim was treated by Govt and the HD commitee just prior to MP’s summer recess. That was a travesty, smoke and mirrors without the transperecy that was promised.
    There are thousands of veterans that served during the cold war, history will tell you that this was one of the most dangerous times the world has seen since WW2,
    Veterans are not asking for much, just some recognition of their service, Australia and new Zealand both issue their forces a National Defence Medal. This has been authorised by the queen

  • Toby Fenwick 12th Nov '14 - 9:31am

    As an ex- and hopefully future reservist, I largely agree with Tim Oliver. Many personnel serve their time out without a conflict, and therefore without a campaign medal. Very few medals are awarded for just doing the job, which after all, we volunteered for (Long Service medals, I suppose). And we’re all entitled to a “Veteran” pin.

    The seperate question of whether there should be a Cold War medal seems moot to me. The key as ever is what the qualification requirements would be.

    I’d much rather we had a credible defence policy than this sort of thing.

  • The United Kingdom has always had a somewhat parsimonious approach to medals .An example of this is the recent changes to the qualification rules for the Accumulated Campaign Service Medal. The qualification time require to achieve the award was reduced from 1080 days to 720. Fine, however a clause was added ” to those serving on or after 1 Jan 2008″. Thus denying the award to a very large number of ex servicemen and women. Clearly we do not want to emulate the over medalling that one sees in some Countries. However a single Medal to recognise service, in the form of a National Defence Medal would I suggest give long overdue recognition of Service given.

  • A Social Liberal 12th Nov '14 - 7:14pm

    Like other posters on this thread, I have served. I don’t agree with a National Defence Medal, not least because I don’t believe it is needed. My reasons is that the medal would be in main part so that those served can be recognised as having done so. This means that the medal would only be relevant after a serviceman or womans period in the regulars has come to an end – and then only if or when they paraded.

    If the medal was issued IN recognition of their service, then unless it is issued at the end of service then its meaning would quickly be demeaned as young men and women would see it as just another bit of kit to be cleaned. The difference between campaign medals and the ND Medal would be that the former shows that they have been placed in a position of danger for extended periods.

  • There are former servicemen who have been injured in or survived terrorist attacks in this country who left or were obliged to leave for medical reasons and hold no medal. That is an anomaly that the defence medal could help to solve. The better alternative for me would be to issue the GSM (or a bar to an existing GSM) with the place and year of the terrorist attack on the bar. I also feel that an award similar to the US Purple Heart for those injured as a result of hostile action would be appropriate.

    Personally I am proud of the Campaign Medal I left the service with yet I lost no friends in that war but several in the UK to terrorists.

  • Clearly it is Government Policy to oppose any views that support the creation of a National Defence Medal. A a Nation we have always had a parsimonious attitude to Medals for our Armed Forces, whilst Honours and Awards for other parts of Society are awarded far too freely. Whilst we do not want to emulate other Countries, who award far too many Medals, we should adopt a fairer policy that gives recognition to our Armed Forces. e.g. The ACSM 2011 Medal has recently had it’s qualification period reduced from 1080 days to 720. This is commendable, however to then add a proviso that only those
    who were serving “on or after 1 SEP 2008 are eligible for the award, thus denying the award to many thousands of Veterans .

  • James Bennett 21st Jan '15 - 9:31pm

    Some of the views expressed above seem to dismiss a National Defence Medal on the grounds of cost, but this does not take into account how those like myself who were conscripted for two years National Service received less than £2.00 army pay for the first six months, whilst in ’civvy’ street, the average wage was about £8.00 per week. Army pay for the final 6 months went up to around £6.30, which included an overseas allowance for active service during the Malayan Emergency, but there is no army pension for National Service. So, just on the grounds of loss of civilian earnings whilst on 2 years National Service, in my view, is enough justification for the UK costs of a National Defence Medal.

    Other views, sometimes put forward by those service regulars of a younger generation who might have signed on, dismiss a NDM in favour of medals given for active service. Of course those of us completing 2 years National Service received a GSM or similar for being posted to one of the many ‘war’ zones in the 1950’s, but unlike present day service tours of duty, we could be posted overseas after basic training to one place or another, such as, Korea, Malaya, Cyprus , Canal Zone, etc, but once posted out there, we would stay without returning to the UK for 15 or 16 months, right up until our own demob date. After demob, we were then registered for another 3 years AER Army Emergency Reserve, just as the war in the Canal zone had started.
    As for the recent Malaysian PJM medal, awarded for ‘active service’ during the Malaysian Confrontation, and presently promoted in the press as if it is for the Malayan Emergency, is a medal not available for those of us as who served earlier in Malaya prior to Malayan Independence, an ’Emergency’ which sought to provide a defence against the perceived terrorist ‘domino theory’ .
    With National service in 1957 coming to an end and a reduced force of young allied troops needed for service ‘up country’ in Malaya , it will be mainly regulars who will be able to apply and receive both the GSM clasp Malaya and the Pingat Jasa Malaysia medal. This in my view, is rather like troops back home in UK, who had earlier served in Afganistan being informed of an active service medal instituted by the local government, but only available by individual application for those who served there since January 2015.

  • Davie MacAllan 3rd Mar '15 - 10:21pm

    I agree with some of the comments and views of John, James and firmly believe as ex-serviceman of 9 years and served during the Cold War period and in NI and FI, that a NDF medal is genuine recognition of service and being ready to respond at short notice and I also agree a commitment to serve and defend at all times is more than adequate for all servicemen and servicewomen and especially all veterans to be awarded a NDF medal. Good luck…

  • Phil Morrell 16th Apr '15 - 6:48am

    Served twenty three years Royal Navy
    First ship HMS Hermes served in Aden-but getting towards the 30 days to be awarded General Service medal and we were ordered out of the area- I met up with an old shipmate recently who transferred to the RNZN and he was issued with an official medal for Aden aboard HMS Hermes.
    Well one might say you did not encounter enemy fire-true but as a ship’s diver the Hermes diving team had to do bottom searches for bombs on the Hermes and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships in waters teeming with man eating sharks! I was also one of the beech patrol issued with sub machine guns to protect crew members whilst swimming as we had been at sea coming on three months!
    Next 1969 I served on a ship in Northern Ireland at the time of the start of the real troubles-again we were sent out of the area before the deadline for picking up a GSM!
    As I live in New Zealand when parading I’m ashamed because all NZ veterans are issued with a National Defence medal-which as a teacher the absence of a medal defers the respect from my pupils, especially in connection to educating them to be grateful for those who have fought and fallen-I’m third generation armed forces, both my grandfathers fought in WWI and all my male relatives fought in WWII.
    Cold War: seventeen years service aboard Polaris submarines and no medal is dishonouring and disrespectful to our service in the Cold War.
    Many of my comrades have died of cancer (albeit could it be proved to be the radiation which it most likely was). I remember coming back off a patrol of over two months dived in radio silence when a crew member was called to the captains cabin, to be informed on the second day of patrol his wife and two children were killed in a car accident!
    He was sent to sea on the next patrol and tried to commit suicide!
    Another crew members wife was diagnosed with cancer but because the doctors would not confirm it was terminal, he was sent to sea on patrol, only to find on return his wife had died and his two children were in care!
    The US has now released and official ‘cold ward’ medal!

  • Peter Macander 27th Apr '15 - 3:32am

    I served for 9 years in the British Army, served in Germany and did two tours in Northern Ireland. Yes I have the GSM but I also wear the Australian Defence Medal awarded as follows:
    The eligibility criteria requires completion of an initial enlistment period or four years service, whichever is the lesser. The criteria also includes those who could not serve the four-year qualifying period or complete an initial enlistment period for one or more of the following reasons:
    •the death of a member during service;
    •the discharge of the member as medically unfit due to compensable impairment;
    •the discharge of the member due to a prevailing discriminatory Defence policy, as determined by the Chief of the Defence Force or his or her delegate.
    We who enlisted did not control our postings.
    On ANZAC day in Australia there are many who march but there are those who do not (including ex British Servicemen and women) because they are embarrassed at not being able to wear any medal. I would also like to point out that Australia also recognises and supports men and women who were unable to complete their service because of accidents during training

  • Robert Firkins 16th Nov '15 - 3:11pm

    Surely, before we get overly excited about a National Defence Medal to be issued to all servicemen and women, shouldn’t we ask that a medal be issued for being wounded or suffering injury when in action like the Americans for example. Shouldn’t such consideration be give to them?
    I was injured in action while serving in Aden in 1965-67. I got a GSM but, so did the cook!

  • Rodney Harrison 12th Jan '16 - 6:38pm

    I served in the Royal Fleet Auxilliary Service for nine years during the height of the cold war. It was always assumed that if WW3 was unlikely, a tit for tat they sink one of ours, we sink one of theirs in the middle of the ocean scenario was highly possible. Even though it never happened, the stress and fear was always there and surely deserves some recognition.

  • Paul Barnes 16th Jan '16 - 2:21pm

    I am ex British Army both Regular and Reserve Service..yes I have a few medals…but I think the issue of a National Defence Medal is justified…after all Our Queen authorised the issue of such a medal to both NZ and Australian Armed Forces Why not her own British Forces personell??…I see many on here against such an issue..but I wonder if the medal just turned up in their mail…with a letter sayinh what is was for and that it was an officialy issued medal to be worn alongside other medals or alone,,,How many of these objectors would send them back?….not many I’d bet..I dont realy see the problem..after all there was an NDM issued for service during WW2 many to people who didnt serve overseas during the war..look at it as an extension to that medal…Stop arguing and bickering about it just issue it…and those who font want it..simple if you get one send it back…or dont apply for it in the first instance..what right have you to deny others…

  • Tony Pennington 24th Feb '16 - 9:24pm

    Just stop messing about and award this ndm to uk vererans asap like Australia & New Zealand did to their forces veterans.After all those medals have our queens head on them.BAOR & UK had russian/ terrorist threat of attack throughout postings for forces the seventies at the height of the troubles we had the Birmingham pub bombings and the Officers Mess bombings in Aldershot where lives were sadly lost..So the threat was definately there and every serving soldier was a walking BAOR there was bombings and shootings of unarmed military personnel from the ira so on those merits alone veterans who served should be issued this medal now.

  • Paddy Pollock 13th Mar '16 - 4:46am

    Like many others I served 10 years and got nothing. Clearly the M o D is about saving money that is needed for the welfare recipients imported for voting purposes. I do not think it is much to ask for a simple medal to wear proudly on Remembrance Day.

    Perhaps Scotland has the right idea to separate…………….

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