DEFENCE (FRONT BENCH) – WWI PARDONS – 7 November 2006

Dr Julian Lewis: The problem that I have intellectually with what the Minister The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Derek Twigg)] proposes is that he is going to let the convictions stand, and pardon people purely because they were executed. That explains why the 2,700 who were not executed are not being pardoned, whereas the 300 who were executed are being pardoned. I am not sure how that will remove the stigma. Surely the stigma results from conviction rather than execution. If I were a member of one of the families concerned who thought that my ancestor had been wrongly convicted because, for example, he had had shell shock, it would not encourage me to know that his conviction stood and he was being pardoned only because of the severity of the sentence, not because of the injustice of the conviction.

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[Andrew Mackinlay: ... One of the consequences of the campaign is not the rewriting of history, but writing a chapter of history that has been suppressed. We spend millions of pounds each year teaching history to schoolchildren and university students, so we need to write it with clarity and precision, including the parts that we find uncomfortable. We are now writing that history ... ]

Dr Lewis: I entirely agree that this is a matter not of rewriting history, but writing history. However, the correct people to write history are historians, not politicians.