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

Exactly.

My right hon. Friend also made a point about the letters of comfort that were issued by a previous Government. I reassure him and other Members that legal reports have been issued on those letters since the cases that he mentioned saying that they are not an amnesty from prosecution. If a case can be made, letters of comfort will not in future be body armour against prosecution—[Interruption.] He is right to say that we will have to wait and see how that plays out when or if one of the cases comes to court, but that is the latest and strongest legal situation.

My right hon. Friend asked when we will publish the responses to the consultation. We have received 17,000 responses, and the answer is as soon as we decently can. We are very nearly there. It has taken a very long time to go through those responses. As I am sure that everybody will appreciate, they came from people with stories of tragedy to tell, so they needed to be gone through with a degree of respect and care, as I am sure that everyone would expect. It has taken some time to go through the process properly and to honour the reasons why people wrote in. We are very nearly there and we will bring them forward as soon as we decently can.

My right hon. Friend asked whether a Bill would be required to put new legacy arrangements in place as and when we come up with proposals. The answer is almost certainly yes, so the House will have an opportunity for full scrutiny according to the usual process—I suspect that that was why he asked the question. Everybody will have a chance to ask detailed questions about how this thing is being put together—