Immunity for Soldiers — [Mrs Madeleine Moon in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 7:16 pm on 20th May 2019.

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Photo of John Penrose John Penrose The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office 7:16 pm, 20th May 2019

This was discussed at some length in the urgent question last Thursday, and a number of hon. Members have made the important point during the course of this debate that was also made on Thursday: for people serving on Operation Banner, it did not feel any different. It felt the same whether they were patrolling in Northern Ireland or in Basra or Afghanistan—it did not matter where. The surroundings might have been different, but it felt the same and they felt under the same pressures. I think everyone here has rightly made the point that morally, as a society, we owe Northern Ireland veterans the same debt of gratitude. Not only that, but, as my hon. Friend the Member for Wells said, no matter what happens, “Come what may, we’ve got your back.” No matter where people served, that should be the outcome.

The difficulty, to answer the point by my hon. Friend Richard Drax , is that in strict legal terms, the legal basis on which the service took place differs depending on whether it was abroad or in the UK. Our challenge as lawmakers is to ensure that the outcome for our servicemen and women is the same. They may have to start from different places, but the destination must be the same; if we cannot do that, we will have failed, and failed really badly.