Berwick MP sets up armed forces group and sings for Syria

Anne-Marie Trevelyan chairing the inaugural APPG for the Armed Forces Covenant.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan chairing the inaugural APPG for the Armed Forces Covenant.

MP for Berwick, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, has established a new cross-party group of MPs to investigate issues arising from the Military Covenant.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Armed Forces Covenant will examine the Government's efforts to uphold the Armed Forces Covenant and ensure current and former members of the armed forces and their families receive the support they deserve.

Mrs Trevelyan said: "We owe our armed forces such a debt of gratitude and to ensure that the laudable aims set out in the Covenant are on course for success. I have been overwhelmed by the level of support for this group from MPs of all parties and I look forward to working with them to ensure our armed forces personnel and veterans receive a high standard of care."

She was elected chairman of the cross-party group, at a well-attended meeting in Parliament today at which Labour, Ulster Unionist and Democratic Unionist MPs were also elected as officers of the group.

The group's first objective is to seek a Backbench Debate on the 2015 report on the Armed Forces Covenant, released by the MoD last week. The report is an annual assessment by the Government on how it is achieving its own goals for the armed forces, veterans and their families. The report has never been the subject of a parliamentary debate, something Mrs Trevelyan is keen to change.

"This report is the Government's annual assessment of how it is meeting its own targets in living up to the Military Covenant," she said. "Given the importance of the aims involved, I think it is important that the report receives proper scrutiny in the House of Commons."

Mrs Trevelyan and colleague Johnny Mercer MP later appeared in front of the Backbench Business Committee to apply for a parliamentary debate on the Armed Forces Covenant Report.

Meanwhile, the Tory MP is to sing at the flagship Singing for Syrians concert in London tonight.

The initiative encourages people around the UK to come together and sing to help support the people of Syria in their desperate time of need. A series of carol concerts have been arranged across the country to raise money for the Hands Up Foundation and Christian Aid. Both organisations are currently involved in aid relief in Syria. In particular, the Hands Up Foundation funds the salaries of medical teams in Aleppo. Every penny raised will receive match funding from the Department for International Development.

The concert takes place tonight from 6-7pm in St Margaret’s Church, Westminster. Romilly Weeks, Sir Timothy Ackroyd and Peter Snow will all do readings, along with solo performances from Nicola Blackwood MP, Will Quince MP, Bernard Jenkin MP, Andrea Jenkyns MP and Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP. Ben Gummer MP, Caroline Spelman MP, Cheryl Gillan MP and Robert Buckland QC MP will join the St Margaret’s Church choir for one night only.

Mrs Trevelyan, who was one of 397 MPs to support air strikes being extended to Syria, said: "Singing for Syrians is a fantastic way to raise money for the most desperate people who remain in Syria. I am particularly concerned about the elderly and those with poor health, who are too weak to contemplate leaving the country."

The MP has also urged residents to ensure they receive their flu jab before the winter flu outbreaks begin.

Mrs Trevelyan received her jab on Friday at Cromie pharmacy in Amble, and reminded people they do not need to see a GP in order to receive the vaccine: "It is so important that people receive their flu jab as soon as possible, especially those who are more at risk, such as the elderly. You do not need to see your GP – pharmacists can give you the jab without an appointment and you do not have to pay if you would otherwise receive it for free from the GP. This is one of the many great services provided by our pharmacists which we ought to make use of and take pressure of GP surgeries."