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Armed Forces Act 2006

Enlistment, terms of service etc

650.The sections relating to enlistment and terms of service are almost exclusively applicable to those holding the rank or rate of warrant officer and below. One (section 330) applies equally to officers, but this relates to disciplinary matters where it is thought right that the same rights or restrictions should apply.

651.Enlistment is the process by which a person joins the regular forces without being commissioned. A person offering to enlist becomes a member of a Service when he takes an oath of allegiance (or affirms his allegiance) to the Sovereign and the validity of his enlistment is attested by a recruiting officer. However, with regard to the Royal Navy, at present a person “enters” service and does not swear an oath of allegiance to the Sovereign. Under the provisions of the Act the Royal Navy will align its procedures and terminology with those of the other Services.

652.A person who enlists into one of the Services agrees to join for a specified period of regular service and perhaps also for a subsequent period in the reserves. In the Army, the person enlists on the understanding that he will serve in a particular corps, although this is subject to the recruit successfully completing training. A recruit’s enlistment may be subject to a final approval process to take account of any significant changes in circumstances since his offer to enlist was originally accepted by the Service.

Section 328: Enlistment

653.This section provides that the Defence Council may make regulations by statutory instrument about the process of enlistment into the regular forces. It is envisaged that the regulations will provide in particular for matters such as the appointment and duties of recruiting officers; prohibiting the enlistment of persons under the age of 18 without the consent of prescribed persons; the validity of enlistment; rights to discharge and the creation of offences of knowingly giving false answers during the enlistment procedure (which are subject to specified maximum punishments).

Section 329: Terms and conditions of enlistment and service

654.This section empowers the Defence Council to make regulations by statutory instrument about the terms and conditions of service of a person who is about to enlist or a person who has already enlisted. They cover in particular the period of service as a regular and in the reserves, the ability of a person to seek to end his service, the ability to continue in service, restrictions as to where some persons might be required to serve and the compulsory transfer of members of the army between corps.

Section 330: Desertion and absence without leave: forfeiture of service etc

655.Where any person is convicted of an offence of desertion, he will forfeit service for the time that he was absent. Forfeiture of service results in loss of pay for the relevant period. Such a person might be required to continue to serve beyond his original discharge or transfer date for the relevant period to complete his engagement. This section provides that the Defence Council may make regulations by statutory instrument with respect to confessions by members of the regular forces to the offence of desertion under section 8, including whether a trial may be dispensed with in such cases, and the forfeiture of service and the restoration of such service in such a case. It also gives power to the Defence Council to make regulations about the forfeiture of service of a member of the regular forces who has been convicted by the Court Martial of an offence of desertion and the circumstances where such service may be restored.

656.The section further provides that the Defence Council may make regulations about the issue of certificates for members of the regular forces who are absent without leave and the effect of the issue of such a certificate, for example, loss of pay.

Section 331: Discharge etc from the regular forces and transfer to the reserve forces

657.When the enlisted person leaves regular service he will be transferred to the reserves if he has a liability for such service. Otherwise he will be discharged from his Service. This section provides that the Defence Council may make regulations about the discharge and the transfer to the reserve of enlisted persons.

658.The section also provides for the Defence Council to make regulations conferring a right on warrant officers to discharge following reduction in rank or rate.

Section 332: Restriction on administrative reduction in rank or rate

659.A person’s rank or rate relates to the authority, responsibility and the professional competence of a person. The Services may need to reduce an enlisted person in rank or rate for reasons of, for example, inefficiency or misconduct, which is distinct from reduction in rank for disciplinary purposes. This section places limitations upon the power to reduce a person’s rank or rate administratively.

660.A CO with the appropriate higher authority permission may order a person who is a warrant officer or non-commissioned officer to be reduced either by one acting rank or, if there is no acting rank, one substantive rank. Higher authority permission is not required, however, if the person to be reduced in rank is a lance corporal or lance bombardier or if the CO holds the rank of Rear Admiral, Major General, or Air Vice Marshal or above. A corporal in the air forces may be reduced to the highest rank which he has held as airman (defined in section 374).

661.The section does not cover reversion from or relinquishment of acting rank when an individual is posted from or replaced in a post for which he has been granted acting rank.

Section 333: Pay, bounty and allowances

662.The main purpose of this section is to provide harmonised, tri-service provision governing the pay, bounty and allowances of the armed forces. Under the existing law (a mixture of prerogative and statute) various forms of promulgation are used, including Orders in Council under the Naval and Marine Pay and Pensions Act 1865, Royal Warrant and orders under section 2 of the Air Force (Constitution) Act 1917.

663.This section provides for the use of a Royal Warrant to make provision on pay, bounty and allowances for members of the regular and the reserve forces. It also specifies some important provisions which may be made in his way. They include provision for persons to exercise a discretion (some allowances are, for example, discretionary). It also provides that the Royal Warrant may be used to authorise deductions from pay (for example to recover an overpayment). But it cannot be used to authorise a forfeiture of pay. So it cannot be used to authorise the right to pay to be removed, as opposed to authorising that right to be offset by another right, such as the right to recover an overpayment. Forfeiture of pay may only be authorised by or under an Act of Parliament (section 341).

664.Money which can be distributed under the Naval Agency and Distribution Act 1864 (for example payments in relation to salvage and certain naval bounties) will continue to be dealt with under the procedures in that Act. They are excluded from the operation of this section.

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