Schedule 1 - Excluded offences for the purposes of section 6

Part of Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill – in the House of Commons at 3:45 pm on 27th April 2021.

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Photo of John Healey John Healey Shadow Secretary of State for Defence 3:45 pm, 27th April 2021

My right hon. Friend is right. I have described it as the big gap in this legislation. It is a big flaw in the Bill. We may not succeed this time around, but we will certainly return to it in the Armed Forces Bill, which I will come on to. The proposals before us in this amendment are simple, flexible, tried and tested in civilian law, and backed by all the leading military and legal experts in the other place.

I urge the Minister this afternoon to confirm what he hinted at last week, and what his colleague, Baroness Goldie, said she would not stand in the way of yesterday. The Secretary of State made an offer to me in conversation last week to formally ask Sir Richard Henriques to examine this proposal as part of his current review so that it can be considered alongside other recommendations from that review for incorporation into the Armed Forces Bill. The Minister’s predecessor said at the very outset of this Bill’s proceedings in this House, on Second Reading back in November:

“The right hon. Member for Wentworth and Dearne raises time and again the issue of the investigations, but he knows that they are for the forthcoming armed forces Bill and will be addressed there.”—[Official Report, 3 November 2020; Vol. 683, c. 258.]

Of course, they are not, but we will ensure that they are. I say to the Minister that I hope we will be able to work together constructively on that, in a way that proved so difficult with his predecessor.