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Extension of period for forming an Executive

Part of Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:45 pm on 9th July 2019.

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Photo of Julian Lewis Julian Lewis Chair, Defence Committee, Chair, Defence Committee 5:45 pm, 9th July 2019

I rise to speak in support of amendment 6, which stands in my name and the names of my right hon. Friend Sir Michael Fallon, my hon. Friend Johnny Mercer and 16 other Members. It relates to a topic that, by sheer coincidence, I was addressing the Chamber about on 9 July exactly 12 months ago to this day. That topic is the need for protection for our service personnel against repeated reinvestigation of alleged offences committed during the troubles, even though those have in many cases been previously investigated and there is little or no prospect of significant new evidence being forthcoming.

The amendment speaks for itself. It suggests that there should be

“a report on progress made towards protecting veterans of the Armed Forces and other security personnel from repeated investigation for Troubles-related incidents by introducing a presumption of non-prosecution, in the absence of compelling new evidence, whether in the form of a Qualified Statute of Limitations or by some other legal mechanism.”

It is very important to note that the word “amnesty” does not feature in the amendment. I was particularly pleased when, in another debate on this subject on 20 May this year, my hon. Friend, as I choose to describe him, Gavin Robinson, who is an authority on these matters, intervened to make the point strongly that what the Defence Committee has in mind—namely, a qualified statute of limitations—is not an amnesty in any way, shape or form.