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Stormont House Agreement: Legacy

Volume 655: debated on Wednesday 6 March 2019

6. What steps she is taking to ensure that the process for addressing the legacy of Northern Ireland’s past commands public confidence and delivers on the objectives of the Stormont House Agreement. [R] (909563)

The Government are carefully considering over 17,000 responses to the recent consultation on legacy. We are determined to replace the current system with one that is fair, balanced and proportionate, and which commands widespread support.

I thank the Secretary of State for her reply. She knows that our ability to secure a lasting peace depends on the support of all the communities involved. Will she assure the House that, when working to address the legacy of Northern Ireland’s past, she will be considerate of our Army and armed forces veterans, many of whom are now pensioners?

I absolutely agree with the hon. Gentleman. I am grateful to him, as we have been able to speak personally about this matter, and to hear his words of advice and wisdom, because he has great experience and expertise in this area, and I value his contribution. I want to ensure that what we take forward and legislate for—something that has been needed since the 1998 Belfast agreement—commands widespread support. It has to command support in this House, in the other place and in Northern Ireland, and it absolutely has to work for our veterans.

Well over 90% of the murders and injuries caused during the troubles in Northern Ireland were caused by acts of terrorism. Very few prosecutions and investigations are under way and innocent victims are being left behind, with thousands of unsolved cases. When will the Secretary of State address that issue and put in place a mechanism to investigate the acts of terrorism—over 90%—that caused those murders and injuries?

The hon. Lady sets out the figures very powerfully—over 90% of the killings during the troubles were at the hands of terrorists. Every single one of those was a crime. The under 10% that were at the hands of the military and police were not crimes; they were people acting under orders and instructions, fulfilling their duties in a dignified and appropriate way. I look forward to working with her more to ensure that we can deliver the much-needed reforms and changes that we all want to see—[Interruption.]

Order. I very much hope that the hon. Member for Barnsley Central is not indisposed. It is most irregular to beetle out of the Chamber before the exchanges on the question have concluded. The hon. Gentleman is normally the very embodiment of courtesy, so if he is not feeling well, I hope he gets well soon; if he is well, he had better get back into the Chamber sooner rather than later. It is an elementary rule that new Members must grasp: do not leave the Chamber until the exchanges on your question have been completed. I am sure you are all interested in the views that other people wish to express as well as in your own. I am sure I can say that without fear of contradiction.