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Issue of sum out of the Consolidated Fund for the year ending 31 March 2019 and appropriation of that sum

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 9:00 pm on 9th July 2018.

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Photo of Michael Fallon Michael Fallon Conservative, Sevenoaks 9:00 pm, 9th July 2018

I accept both those points. I made the first one myself—our armed forces are subject to armed forces legislation and no member of the armed forces would want any exemption for wrongdoing or misconduct—but the second point is the more important. As it stands, ex-servicemen and women—mainly servicemen —are being discriminated against by the process.

The Committee and the Government, if they will accept the amendment, or the spirit of it, have an opportunity to declare their will to Northern Ireland—to the judiciary in Northern Ireland, to the legal system in Northern Ireland, to some of the fee-hungry barristers in Northern Ireland—and to our own appeal courts here, that Parliament will no longer tolerate a situation where terrorist murderers are allowed to walk free while ex-servicemen, veterans who have put their lives on the line for the rest of us, fear a knock on the door and can be hauled from their beds, arrested, flown to Belfast, put into a cell and indicted for an offence that might or might not have been committed 30 or 40 years before. That cannot be right.

I make one final point: these ex-servicemen are not the generals or even the colonels who wrote the rules of engagement, planned the patrols and issued the orders, but the ordinary soldiers, the men of the platoons, who went out into the dark, into danger, on our behalf to face up to the terrorist challenge in Northern Ireland. We owe it to them, one way or another, to say that enough is enough and that the hounding of our veterans must now stop. I look to the Government to tell the Committee how they propose to stop it.