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Legacy Consultation

Volume 660: debated on Wednesday 22 May 2019

8. What recent progress she has made on the consultation on addressing the legacy of Northern Ireland’s past. (910958)

As the House heard earlier, we had over 17,000 responses to the consultation, many of them containing tales of personal tragedy and loss, so I hope that everyone will understand the need to consider them all respectfully and carefully. The process is almost finished and I hope that we will be able to publish an analysis of the views they contain—[Interruption.]

Order. This is very unfair on the Minister, who is answering a question about the legacy of Northern Ireland’s past. This is a matter of the utmost seriousness and solemnity and I think that the Minister and the questioner should be accorded respect.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. I was just finishing my remarks by saying that the process of considering those tragic submissions is almost finished and I hope that we will be able to publish an analysis of the views they contain very soon.

Does my hon. Friend agree that we must listen carefully to this consultation and does he agree with the words of the Secretary of State in the foreword to the consultation:

“amnesties are not the right approach and”

the Government

“believes that justice should be pursued”?

Yes, I do. Any solution must allow both unionists and republicans to achieve closure, and for all of Northern Ireland to draw a line and move on. Otherwise it will not last. We have been working closely with the political parties in Northern Ireland, as well as colleagues across both Houses, on the way forward and, last week, the Secretary of State met the Victims’ Commissioner and legacy groups as well.

Part of the dark past of Northern Ireland is also the question of historical institutional abuse. The Secretary of State has said that she now intends to act. The victims groups this week called on her to stand down and resign. She needs to regain their confidence. She needs to give a very clear timetable as to when she will take action in this House and elsewhere. Will the Minister now make it clear when that will happen?

I thought I heard just now the Secretary of State doing a pretty good job of showing the personal commitment and the urgency with which she is treating this. I am afraid I cannot add any more detail to the timetable, but I hope everybody here will have understood and heard the passion in her voice and the determination to move this forward promptly and swiftly.