The Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme (AFPS) is a privately run programme to give Members of Parliament and peers in the United Kingdom and members of devolved assemblies, Tynwald and British MEPs experience of the armed forces. Its aim is to improve the quality of debate on military issues, and does this by exposing its members to first-hand experience of the service.
It was founded in 1989 by Sir Neil Thorne, a former Conservative MP, for the benefit of members of both houses of Parliament and those of all parties. It is sponsored by three defence companies — BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, and AgustaWestland — which each contribute £45,000 a year.
In 2008, Conservative MP Douglas Carswell was banned from the organisation after criticising the propriety of defence companies sponsoring it when he saw British soldiers under-equipped on the front line, prompting questions about the programme's independence. Sixteen MPs graduated from the AFPS in 2010, and fifteen in 2009. MPs that participate in the AFPS for a long time can receive medals and honorary titles.
First year students are granted the honorary rank of Army - Major / RAF - Squadron Leader / RN - Lt Commander (depending on which branch of the armed forces they choose to join. They are required to complete 22 days of service in order to graduate. There are post graduate and further post graduate postings available, with honorary ranks of Lt Colonel (or equivalent) and Colonel (or equivalent).
Types of activity will depend on seniority. Level one provides an introduction to the work of the service branch involved, whilst postgraduates will deal with joint working and doctrine amongst other, more strategic, considerations for defence generally.