Northern Ireland Government

House of Lords written question – answered on 23rd January 2015.

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Photo of Lord Laird Lord Laird Non-affiliated

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether their agreement in paragraph 37 of the Stormont House Agreement to “make full disclosure” to the proposed Historical Investigation Unit includes the handing over of all relevant files and documents in the possession of the security services and the Army; what is the current United Kingdom legislation applying to existing bodies that is said to prevent “damaging onward disclosure of information”; and whether they can guarantee, in the particular circumstances of Northern Ireland, that the legislation will meet their duty to keep people safe and secure and will be compliant with Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Photo of Baroness Randerson Baroness Randerson Lords Spokesperson (Northern Ireland Office), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales

The Stormont House Agreement made clear that the UK Government will make full disclosure of all relevant information held by UK Government departments to the Historical Investigations Unit.

There are various statutes which contain provisions designed to prevent damaging disclosure of sensitive information. These range from the Official Secrets Act 1989, which applies generally and deals with disclosure of Government information, to other approaches that deal with specific legal processes, such as the Criminal Appeal Act 1995 which governs disclosure of information by the Criminal Cases Review Commission. Appropriate legislation will be drafted to provide for the specific requirements of the Historical Investigations Unit regarding onward disclosure, in line with arrangements for existing bodies and consistent with the Stormont House Agreement.

The UK Government is committed to ensuring that the right to life (Article 2) is protected and that the Government also fulfils its duty to keep people safe and secure, in Northern Ireland and across the United Kingdom.

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