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The Disappeared

Volume 518: debated on Wednesday 10 November 2010

In July, the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains successfully recovered the remains of Charlie Armstrong, and it awaits DNA confirmation regarding remains it believes to be those of Gerard Evans and Peter Wilson. This would take the total number of disappeared who have been located to nine.

May I pay tribute to the excellent work of the ICLVR, particularly Geoff Knupfer and Jon Hill, who do such good work, as I have seen for myself? I met the Wilson family just before the find was announced, and I can testify to the very serious effect that it has on families who have waited for many, many years to find their loved ones so that they can be placed in a grave and they can go to see them regularly. That achieves closure for many people. The commission is a joint initiative between the Irish and the British Governments. It is led entirely by intelligence, and we will continue to be led by intelligence—

Order. The Minister will have to practise. He is far too long-winded, and that has got to change.

The Minister refers to the recovery of remains, which is a painful reminder of the need to deal with the legacy of the past in Northern Ireland. If the Secretary of State decides to place any new obligations on the Historical Enquiries Team, will he ensure that it is fully and properly funded to undertake them?

The two bodies are entirely different. We believe that the HET is a good organisation and should be properly resourced, as we believe that it represents the way forward.

The whole House will think fondly of that gallant soldier Captain Robert Nairac of the Grenadier Guards, who was so brutally killed by the IRA. Does the Minister have any up-to-date information about whether his remains may yet be discovered?

My hon. Friend is right to draw attention to that. Alas, Captain Nairac is not alone. A considerable number of bodies have yet to be located, and that we hope that will happen in due course.

The Minister has already referred to the winding up of the commission dealing with the disappeared. Does he think that is wise, and does he think it is wise also to wind up the Independent Monitoring Commission, given the ongoing paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland?

The right hon. Gentleman may have misheard me. I have not said that we will wind up the former. With reference to the latter, we announced that there would be one more valedictory report. It was established in the first place to monitor the connections between elected representatives and paramilitaries. We believe that that is no longer appropriate or necessary.

Would the Minister kindly give me a commitment that fresh efforts will be made to retrieve my young constituent, Lisa Dorrian, who was murdered and disappeared by those with loyalist paramilitary connections five years ago? That is five long Christmases for the family, who deserve closure. What fresh efforts are being made to retrieve her body?

The hon. Lady is entirely correct, but she must understand that the responsibility of the Northern Ireland Office in these matters is limited, and quite properly so. The ICLVR is an independent organisation and responds to intelligence provided to it—very often anonymous intelligence. I hope that it will listen to what the hon. Lady has said, but it will respond only when the intelligence comes. I hope that those who have any understanding or any knowledge will bring that forward.