DEFENCE – STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR NI VETERANS – 25 June 2018
[The Minister for the Armed Forces (Mark Lancaster): ... last year the Select Committee on Defence looked at Northern Ireland in particular and recommended the creation of a statute of limitations covering all troubles-related deaths involving the armed forces, alongside a non-criminal mechanism for ascertaining the facts surrounding those deaths. While the Committee’s report demonstrated that there was support for alternative ways of looking at the legacy of the past in Northern Ireland, we must acknowledge – this is my understanding – that none of the Northern Ireland parties felt this was an approach that they could consider.]
Dr Julian Lewis: I am glad that the Minister has paid attention to the previous report that we produced on Northern Ireland. I was even more glad that the official response to that report said that the consultation would include a section of alternative approaches that would consider a statute of limitations and a truth recovery mechanism. Unfortunately – and it seems to have happened with the change of Secretary of State for Northern Ireland – that policy has been dropped. My impression, having spoken to ardent loyalists and ardent republicans, is that they are trapped by their rhetoric. They cannot say that they would go along with a statute of limitations, but in reality, if the Government took the lead, they would be able to live with it.
[Mark Lancaster: I am grateful to my right hon. Friend. I will address that point if he will bear with me.
Because there are a range of opinions, as well as requesting contributions as to how the Stormont House institutions could be implemented, the Northern Ireland Office consultation includes an open question inviting wider views on alternative ways of addressing Northern Ireland’s past. That open question ensures that all those who believe in an alternative way forward will be given a full opportunity to express their views and put forward proposals. As I said in the Westminster Hall debate a few weeks ago, I hope that everyone who has contributed to the debate will find the time to respond to the consultation. I can reassure the House that the Government are committed to considering all contributions carefully before deciding next steps. In that consultation, it is in their response to the open question that hon. Members can express their views on the subject. ...]