DEFENCE – ARMED FORCES COVENANT – 16 May 2011

Dr Julian Lewis: I do not wish to denigrate the legal profession as a whole, but does my right hon. Friend accept that there is a certain type of lawyer who specialises in persuading victims to bring court cases that otherwise might not, and indeed ought not, be brought? Is he satisfied that there will be enough safeguards to prevent that sort of abuse from happening as a result of putting into law the military covenant?

[The Secretary of State for Defence (Dr Liam Fox): I have a sister who is a doctor and a sister who is a lawyer. My father used to say we had the best of both worlds – the licence to steal and the licence to kill – but I have never taken such caricatures as necessarily being the honest truth. I will not be tempted down the road where my hon. Friend tries to tempt me, except to say that in striking a balance in the legislation, we have sought to minimise the risk of the kind of behaviour that he mentions, while trying to ensure that we honour our responsibilities and give a sound legal basis to the covenant that we are putting forward.]