NIO – PROTECTION OF NORTHERN IRELAND VETERANS – 9 July 2019
[Tony Lloyd: Let me begin by addressing the issues raised by the right hon. Members for New Forest East (Dr Lewis) and for Sevenoaks (Sir Michael Fallon). We will return to this theme, so they will forgive me if my response today may be more truncated than I would prefer if there were more time. There can never be a question of moral equivalence between a member of our Armed Forces and somebody engaged in terrorism on behalf of a paramilitary organisation. We need to make that very clear. Whatever our disagreements, the agreement over the lack of moral equivalence is absolute and we should not be drawn down that track. That said, I am extremely uneasy about the approach taken by both right hon. Members.
The right hon. Member for New Forest East referred to our international commitments. One of our commitments is as a state party to the International Criminal Court and the treaties thereof. Article 29 of the Rome statute makes it clear that crimes that fall within the jurisdiction of the Court cannot be subject to a state-imposed Statute of Limitations. That is an absolute condition of the Rome statute. The right hon. Gentleman looks puzzled. I invite him to check that.]
Dr Julian Lewis: I am not a lawyer, but my understanding is that the ICC, having been set up long after the Troubles, does not have retrospective application, even if the hon. Gentleman’s interpretation of the law is correct.
[Tony Lloyd: I did not necessarily automatically assume that the right hon. Gentleman was looking for retrospective legislation. That is an interesting point. The reality, however, is that for this state to now adopt retrospectively something that is imposed would be in contravention of article 29 of that statute. ... ]
[NOTE: Labour divided the House against the Amendment moved by Julian. His Amendment was carried by a majority of 80.]
[For Julian's speech in this debate click here.]