Defence secretary Philip Hammond has reportedly written to Labour’s shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy confirming his interest in cross-party talks to discuss the issue of discrimination against those currently or formerly in the armed forces.
Talks will focus on discrimination in several areas of society, particularly in the fields of housing, employment and harassment or abuse.
It comes ahead of significant planned cuts to armed forces personnel, which is likely to see thousands of former army, navy and air force employees seeking work in civilian roles for the first time.
Labour has called for a new legal framework protecting the rights of these and other armed forces members to aid this transition.
A motion in Parliament has received cross-party backing and a Private Members’ Bill on the issue is due to be brought before the House of Commons early next year.
“Service personnel losing their jobs must get every chance to move smoothly from military to civilian life,” Mr Murphy told the Guardian.
“Ex-forces want a level playing field in getting a job, a home or school for their kids. With thousands being sacked during the recession, this government’s actions are making things harder for veterans.”
Up to 30,000 posts are being axed from the army, navy and air force, following the controversial 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review.
Labour has also called for them to be given “day one” access to the government’s work programme, rather than waiting the three months that are normally required before being admitted to the scheme.
“The unique nature of military service demands unique support,” said Mr Murphy. “That’s why we’re saying that those veterans who want it shouldn’t have to wait to get access to the government’s work programme.”