Skip to main content

Consultative Group on the Past

Volume 512: debated on Wednesday 30 June 2010

5. What plans he has to take into account the recommendations of the report of the Consultative Group on the Past in formulating policy on reconciliation measures in Northern Ireland. (4208)

In determining what role I can play, I will of course consider the recommendations made by the Consultative Group on the Past. I will shortly publish a summary of responses to the previous Government’s consultation on the group’s proposals.

I congratulate the Secretary of State on his appointment and I thank him and his predecessor for the quality of contact and consideration that they extended to the families regarding the publication of the Saville report. On the wider issues of the past, there are thousands of victims, all of whom have different needs in terms of truth, recognition and remembrance. Does the Secretary of State agree that the community also has a collective responsibility to discharge its regard for the past so that future generations will know that it was a dirty war and that we will never settle for a dirty peace?

I am grateful for that question and pay tribute to the hon. Gentleman, who has taken me to his constituency. I met the families in the Bogside two or three years ago, and on that trip I also met Dr Hazlett Lynch a few hours later. That drummed into me the fact that there is no consensus on the past. We have to work at local level, and I appeal to the hon. Gentleman to work with his colleagues in the Executive, in collaboration with us, to find a way forward. However, there is no black-and-white solution that will work if we impose it from above.

May I add my congratulations to the Secretary of State on his appointment? Is he aware of the report produced this morning by the Commission for Victims and Survivors giving the Government advice on dealing with the past? How will he take forward the report’s recommendations so that we have a more comprehensive process for dealing with all aspects of the past and the needs of victims?

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for that question. The document will form part of our listening exercise. We will publish the summary of the conclusions of those who responded to the previous Government on the Eames-Bradley report. As I have said, we will be going round talking and listening to various groups, but I repeat—for the nth time in this question session—that we cannot impose. It is up to people in Northern Ireland to work together to decide a strategy going forward.