Veteran ID Cards

Cabinet Office – in the House of Commons am ar 29 Chwefror 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Virginia Crosbie Virginia Crosbie Ceidwadwyr, Ynys Môn

What recent progress he has made on the roll-out of veteran ID cards.

Photo of Johnny Mercer Johnny Mercer Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister for Veterans' Affairs)

To date, we have received over 70,000 applications. We are committed to ensuring that as many veterans as possible know how to apply for a card: we have launched a national promotional campaign to raise awareness of the card’s availability, and over the next few months, we will continue to work with the charity sector and others to ensure as many people as possible know about the card and its benefits.

Photo of Virginia Crosbie Virginia Crosbie Ceidwadwyr, Ynys Môn

Veterans in my constituency of Ynys Môn, such as the brilliant Mark Davis who served our country for many years, are now eligible for a veteran card. Can my right hon. Friend confirm how veterans such as Mark Davis are being told about that card and how to get one? Diolch yn fawr.

Photo of Johnny Mercer Johnny Mercer Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister for Veterans' Affairs)

A significant program of work is going on at the moment to make sure everyone is aware of the card. This has been the No. 1 ask of the major six military charities in this country for some time, and I encourage everybody who is eligible—who has served and is a veteran—to apply for their veteran ID card, which opens up a whole gamut of services. We have completely transformed what it means to be a veteran in this country. Those services are available: you can get help with so many issues. Please do apply for your card, and slowly, we will make this the best country in the world to be a veteran.

Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health)

As always, I thank the Minister for his very positive response. He will know, of course, that people in Northern Ireland are joining up to serve—whether it be in the Army, the Royal Navy or the Royal Air Force—as they have done over the years. Beyond the Battlefield, which I hope the Minister will visit shortly, is one of the organisations that helps veterans. Does the Minister hold any statistics on how many service personnel from Northern Ireland have applied for veteran ID cards?

Photo of Johnny Mercer Johnny Mercer Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister for Veterans' Affairs)

I do not have those figures to hand, but Northern Ireland traditionally has a higher representation of service personnel. I was in Northern Ireland two weeks ago, and I was impressed with some of the services, but to be honest, Northern Ireland is not where I want it to be in terms of veterans’ affairs. We are looking at all options for how the Office for Veterans’ Affairs can really lean in—while mindful of the fact that health, housing and many other things are devolved—and make sure that the standard that we now see in England for veterans’ care is replicated across the United Kingdom in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Photo of Steve McCabe Steve McCabe Shadow Minister (Defence)

I congratulate the Office for Veterans’ Affairs and the Ministry of Defence on its achievements with the roll-out so far, although it is probably fair to acknowledge that there is still some way to go. Is it not quite surprising that the veteran ID card cannot be used for the purpose of ID in a UK election? When does the Minister hope to put that right?

Photo of Johnny Mercer Johnny Mercer Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister for Veterans' Affairs)

The ID card is the first phase in a multi-phase operation to ensure that that objective can be achieved, alongside a whole load of other objectives. The challenge is digitising 13 million veterans’ records to ensure that we have an accurate picture of veterans. Getting the ID card out was the first phase, but of course, the ambition is to ensure that the card is used for all sorts of purposes, including the one that the hon. Gentleman has mentioned.