Sir Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, with reference to the UK Armed Forces Families Strategy 2022 to 2032, published on 19 January 2022, what steps his Department is taking to negotiate permission for the spouses or partners of service personnel to be able to work when accompanying personnel on deployment overseas; if he will make an assessment of the impact of negotiating those permissions on levels of early resignation from the armed forces by affected personnel; whether he has had recent discussions with the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs on the experience of that Department of negotiating those permissions for the families of diplomats posted abroad; and if he will make a statement. 
[Due for Answer on 22 March]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence People, Veterans and Service Families (Dr Andrew Murrison): Armed Forces families are at the heart of the Defence community and the UK Armed Forces Families Strategy 2022 to 2032 acknowledged the importance of making their recognition and care a priority. The Strategy seeks to offer choice and flexibility in allowing personnel to serve and raise a family simultaneously, with benefit to all. In developing the Strategy, we were guided by the evidence of families to focus our attention on their key areas of concern; one such was enabling a partner to manage their career alongside the service person.
Officials from the Ministry of Defence have had initial conversations with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office on the subject of spousal employment. However, the parallel between Armed Forces families and those of diplomats is not a direct one. The legal position of our Armed Forces and their families overseas is determined by local agreements or memoranda, and thus differs from diplomatic staff.
Overseas assignments present families with diverse and unique experiences, but the support available can vary, depending on the host nation and the specific assignment. As part of the Armed Forces Families Strategy, we are working to help inform those families of the support that is available to them prior to their departure overseas to ensure that they are able to make well-informed decisions.
In the Armed Forces Continuous Attitude Survey (AFCAS), spouse/partner career is often cited as one of the top three factors influencing intentions to leave, although this is not an issue uniquely linked to overseas deployments. This question in AFCAS measures intentions, rather than actual behaviours, so this does not necessarily mean that availability of spousal employment leads to early resignation.