IT IS rare for an MP to push through one Private Member’s Bill in their time in office, let alone two – yet Woking’s Jonathan Lord has set a precedent since entering the House of Commons in May 2010.
His latest statute builds on the Armed Forces Covenant, to make provisions for foreign and Commonwealth members of the British military deployed abroad.
Previously, those serving overseas were unable to include that period of service when applying for British citizenship.
Mr Lord celebrated the Armed Forces (Citizenship) Act coming into force with Home Secretary Theresa May MP in Parliament on Thursday (below), before dropping in on Pirbright Army barracks on Friday to share his success.
He told the News & Mail: “I’m thrilled to have got this important measure on to the Statute Book and I am sure it will help Armed Forces families both this year and in future.
“It is vital that those who serve in our military are treated fairly and this measure is a further demonstration that the public and their elected representatives want to do the right thing by our Armed Forces.”
Warrant Officer Class 1, Regimental Sergeant Major John McLachlan said: “There are a lot of foreign soldiers now in the military.
“I am absolutely delighted that Jonathan Lord has passed a Bill through Parliament that allows foreign and Commonwealth soldiers deployed overseas or on active operations to accumulate their service towards their five years of nationalism.”
Lieutenant Colonel Darren Denning, in charge of HQ Regiment, added: “Anything that eases things for our soldiers is the right thing to do.
“They will have a pleasant surprise along the line.”
After the Bill had gone through three readings in the Commons, Lord David Trefgarne, a former Defence Minister from Horsell, helped to pilot the Bill through the House of Lords, before it was signed off by The Queen.
He said: “I congratulate Jonathan on steering a second Act of Parliament on to the Statute Book in his first four years as an MP. To get one Bill through in his very first year was pretty astonishing; to now have another to his name is absolutely remarkable.”
Mr Lord was the first backbench MP of any party in this Parliament to secure a Private Member’s Bill: the Sports Ground Safety Authority Act received Royal Assent on July 12, 2011.
The Football Licensing Auth-ority was renamed the Sports Grounds Safety Authority, enab-ling them to provide safety ad-vice at sports grounds in general.
Mr Lord is now also the first member of the large 2010 intake of new MPs to secure two Acts of Parliament. The Armed Forces (Citizenship) Bill received its Third Reading in the Commons on January 17, and secured Royal Assent on March 13.
Mr Lord added: “All the measures have now come into force. The Military Covenant should be a living, breathing article of faith between politicians and all who serve our country so bravely.
“My Act of Parliament is another important demonstration that we respect and cherish our military personnel.”