Northern Ireland (Offences) Bill
Andrew Robathan (Shadow Minister, Defence; Blaby, Conservative)
I am sorry, I have not got time.
The former Chief of the Defence Staff, Admiral Boyce, has said:
We have seen the setting up of the historic investigation team by the 6th Regiment, Royal Military Police in Northern Ireland to help the Police Service of Northern Ireland in its historic investigation. But, of course, it is investigating only soldiers. It will be working with the historic inquiry team of the PSNI. More Danegeld is being paid.
I want to concentrate on two cases that I know a little about. Friends of all ranks were involved. The first was in Gibraltar in 1988. We all remember "Death on the Rock"—what a shocker that was. The Minister will tell us what the next concession will be, but I am sure that there will be an historic investigation into this case. Why? The terrorists were plotting to blow up the changing of the guard at Government House and they would have killed hundreds of people. An outrage was being planned. Actually, it is a moot point whether the soldiers were right when they shot the IRA terrorists, because the bomb was still in Spain. But that is the point. The historic investigation could therefore easily bring charges, although the soldiers were acting in good faith, on instructions from the Government and from their commanders, and prevented a dreadful atrocity. The Government will hang those SAS soldiers out to dry, as they have done to some soldiers in Iraq, to placate the IRA.
The other case is even worse. In May 1987, eight IRA terrorists who were armed to the teeth drove a JCB with a bomb on it into Loughall police station and exploded the device. They were then ambushed by soldiers and police officers who had been so instructed by the Secretary of State. That took place with Government approval. I would say that it was a great success in the battle against the IRA, but I fear that that is not how it strikes this Government and this Secretary of State. This Government passed the Human Rights Act 1998. When the European Court of Human Rights said in May 2001 that the human rights of those poor murdering terrorists had been violated, the Government had to pay £10,000 to each family. Under the Human Rights Act, those soldiers are already guilty. It is no surprise that in a written answer to me on
"the PSNI has advised us that this incident will be looked at by the Historical Enquiry Team in due course."—[Hansard, 21 November 2005; Vol. 439, c. 1641W.]
What confidence can any soldier or ex-soldier have in this Government? It is a disgrace. More SAS soldiers will be hung out to dry, and there will be another concession to the IRA.
Should Adams and McGuinness—both on the IRA army council, and both have blood all over their hands—appear before the tribunal and should they be released on licence, will they be allowed to sit in the House of Commons as murderers under licence? I make this prediction: I guarantee that, should it happen, this Government will make another concession.
Arguably, this is the worst Bill to come before the House in recent times—certainly while I have been a Member of Parliament. I should like Defence Ministers and senior commanders of the armed forces to stand up and say, "This is a disgrace", because it is a disgrace. The Sun accused me, and my hon. Friends, of being soft of terrorism. Where does it list the people who will vote for this disgraceful Bill tonight?
When we come here we should always know what we are doing, and we should know that what we are doing is right. We should always strive to do what is right. We swear before the House that we will try to do what is right. It is not right to pass this dishonest and corrupt Bill. I hope that all Members who vote for it will hang their heads in shame.