Investigation of Veterans

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:41 am on 16th May 2019.

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Photo of John Penrose John Penrose The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office 10:41 am, 16th May 2019

I will endeavour to respond to those six points, but may I begin by saying that I am sure that my right hon. Friend speaks for everybody in this House—he certainly speaks for me—when he says that we will have no rancid political deals here? That is not acceptable. If we are going to ask people potentially to put their lives on the line by serving in Her Majesty’s armed forces anywhere in the world, we need to make sure that we do the right thing by them when they have done the right thing by their country. As somebody who has served and who understands the importance of military discipline, my right hon. Friend will know that that is not unqualified, because there are rules within the armed forces. However, provided that people have adhered to those rules, we in this place, on both sides of the aisle, and more broadly across society, owe something in return, so there absolutely will be no rancid political deals on my watch, and I am sure that my right hon. Friend will be absolutely certain to make sure that that will not happen more broadly.

Before I come to my right hon. Friend’s six questions, may I put him right on a couple of other things? On his point about whether or not the Secretary of State announced a statute of limitations or an intention to move towards one, he is right that the details have not yet been fully put out. I understand that there will be a consultation with more details attached to it. Some press reports are talking about a presumption of non-prosecution rather than a statute of limitations; we will have to wait and see.

My right hon. Friend’s first question was about when the MOD will publish details. I am afraid that I cannot answer that as a Northern Ireland Office Minister. I imagine it will want to move forward fairly briskly, but to get a categorical answer, I am afraid he will have to raise that point either privately or at the next Defence questions.