Northern Ireland: Vexatious Claims

Defence – in the House of Commons on 6th July 2020.

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Photo of Bob Stewart Bob Stewart Conservative, Beckenham

What progress he has made on preventing vexatious claims against service personnel involved in the Northern Ireland campaign; and on what date he plans to complete that work.

Photo of Ben Wallace Ben Wallace The Secretary of State for Defence

This Government are committed to ending vexatious claims as quickly as possible. I am working closely with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland towards this objective. As set out in the written ministerial statement laid on 18 March, he has committed to bringing forward legacy legislation that will deliver for victims and ensure that Northern Ireland veterans are treated as fairly as those who served overseas. We will engage with colleagues from across the House as part of this process.

Photo of Bob Stewart Bob Stewart Conservative, Beckenham

I rise as someone who has done seven tours in Northern Ireland and as a member of the Northern Ireland Veterans Association. The Prime Minister, on 23 July last year in the 1922 Committee, promised me that this matter would be a top priority for the Government. This promise was repeated in the Conservative manifesto, so I ask my right hon. Friend: when will our veterans from Northern Ireland be treated properly?

Photo of Ben Wallace Ben Wallace The Secretary of State for Defence

My hon. Friend, like me, has been a long campaigner on this—in fact, I went on my first Northern Ireland veterans campaign for just as much in 1998. I have fought for a very long time for veterans of Northern Ireland. As he will be aware, the Northern Ireland Office and the Northern Ireland Secretary of State are the lead in this. We have fed into the process. We are already committed to taking steps to protect our veterans. At the same time, my hon. Friend may not have missed this, but unfortunately, covid came along—a pandemic that no one predicted last year—and that has somehow certainly changed everything we are doing. It does not mean to say that the policy work has not been going on. We will deliver a policy that will get justice for veterans in Northern Ireland.