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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 10:00 pm on 9th July 2018.

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Photo of Henry Bellingham Henry Bellingham Conservative, North West Norfolk 10:00 pm, 9th July 2018

It is a great honour to follow my right hon. Friend Sir Mike Penning, who made an extremely moving speech.

I plan to be brief, but I first want to thank the Secretary of State for Defence, who, in reply to my Question 1 this afternoon, said that he would set up a dedicated team at the Ministry of Defence to look at the situation of all veterans. I have sponsored two Adjournment debates on this subject, and I have also set up an informal parliamentary support group to look at the interests of veterans from all theatres.

I congratulate my right hon. Friend Sir Michael Fallon on the way in which he moved his amendment. I underline the comments about his time as Defence Secretary, during which he worked tirelessly to try to stop some of this nonsense going on, particularly in respect of Iraq and Afghanistan. His amendments are a genuine attempt to try to move this debate forward and to propose a constructive suggestion.

I very much hope that the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland will do two things. First, I hope she will work with the Secretary of State for Defence to make sure that the unit being set up really starts to make a difference. Secondly, the consultation that she set up did not actually say anything about looking at a statute of limitations. She mentioned the word “amnesty”, but, as Sir Jeffrey M. Donaldson made very clear, we are not talking about an amnesty, but about a statute of limitations. In this case it would affect Northern Ireland, but I would extend it to all veterans from all theatres so that they knew where they stood and that, after a period of time, it would not be possible for them to be subject to the knock on the door. The qualification would of course be that that applied unless any new evidence became available.