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Armed Forces Act 2001

Section 31: Power to make provisions in consequence of enactments relating to criminal justice

105.This section provides a general order-making power which enables the Secretary of State to make for the armed forces provisions equivalent to those contained in any future civilian criminal justice legislation or any existing legislation that it amends.

106.The areas of criminal legislation which may be the subject of such equivalent provisions are identified in the section. The power may be exercised so far as is desired, i.e. the entire civilian legislation does not have to be adopted. Modifications or any incidental, consequential or transitional provisions which the Secretary of State thinks fit may be made.

107.Any order under the power will be made by statutory instrument subject to the negative resolution procedure except in the case of an order which amends any primary legislation. In this case, orders will be subject to the affirmative procedure and must be approved by both Houses of Parliament before being made (section 35).

108.In general, the armed forces aim to keep their system of investigation, trial and punishment under Service law as consistent as possible with the corresponding procedures in the civilian system. Until the passing of this Act, the principal means of amending Service law has been the five yearly Armed Forces Bills, which meant that differences could exist for a considerable period before an opportunity to make the relevant amendments of Service law arose.

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