Dr Julian Lewis: Does my right hon. Friend accept that these proposals are practically identical to those presented by the Defence Committee in its report of April 2017? Does he accept that the time will never come when there will be agreement between all parties, and that it is up to the Government to decide what they are going to do and do it? Does he accept that the vexatious pursuit of soldiers cannot be stopped without a statute of limitations, and that a statute of limitations to conform with international law cannot be selective? Finally, does he accept that a truth recovery mechanism fulfils the requirement of international law for a proper inquiry, and that that is the only way in which people will be likely to reveal what happened – when they no longer have to fear prosecution, which would in any case almost certainly fail?
[The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Brandon Lewis): My right hon. Friend has huge expertise and experience in these matters. The Select Committee report is indeed very clear, and goes into great detail about how this can work. My right hon. Friend is also absolutely right – which should surprise none of us – in his understanding of why the information recovery, truth and reconciliation part of this is so important. Not only is it the means for us to move Northern Ireland forward, but – here I return to what I said at the beginning of my statement – it is the means to ensure that what we do is compliant with human rights and article 2. To that end, we need to ensure that the information recovery mechanism is very clear, very focused and able to deliver, and, as we know from examples such as Operation Kenova, that can be done.
I thank my right hon. Friend for the expertise and advice that he has been able to provide, in the Committee’s report and subsequently. What he has said is absolutely right.]