Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019 Section 3(2)

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019 (Rule of Law) – in the House of Commons at 8:59 pm on 9th September 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Julian Smith Julian Smith The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland 8:59 pm, 9th September 2019

I want to take care about prejudging the work that the Government have put in place, cross-Government. As my right hon. Friend is aware, the Prime Minister has set a new focus on this issue, and I am sure he will be inputting into that. I will be working, along with the Ministry of Defence and the Cabinet Office, to move that issue forward.

I absolutely recognise the sentiment and the principle underpinning the amendments on legacy, and I recognise the strength of feeling across this House on this matter. We have been clear that the current system for dealing with the legacy is not working well, and we will move forward in the ways I have discussed. While we want to find a better way to address these issues, to do so through the presumption of non-prosecution would pose a range of challenges and may not provide a complete solution to the issues at play.

A presumption of non-prosecution in the absence of compelling new evidence is likely to need to be applied to everyone involved in troubles-related incidents, including former terrorists. However, implementing these provisions would not remove the obligations under domestic criminal law and international obligations under the European convention on human rights for independent investigations of serious allegations. With regards to troubles prosecution guidance, hon. Members will of course be aware that criminal investigations are carried out independently of the Government. Prosecutorial decisions and the guidance that underpins them are devolved matters in Northern Ireland.