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Saville Inquiry

Volume 719: debated on Tuesday 15 June 2010

Statement

My Lords, I hope that it will now be a convenient moment for me to repeat a Statement being made in another place by the Prime Minister on the Saville inquiry. The Statement is as follows:

“With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a Statement.

Today, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is publishing the report of the Saville inquiry, the tribunal set up by the previous Government to investigate the tragic events of 30 January 1972—a day more commonly known as Bloody Sunday. We have acted in good faith by publishing the tribunal's findings as quickly as possible after the general election.

I am deeply patriotic. I never want to believe anything bad about our country. I never want to call into question the behaviour of our soldiers and our Army, who I believe to be the finest in the world. And I have seen for myself the very difficult and dangerous circumstances in which we ask our soldiers to serve.

But the conclusions of this report are absolutely clear. There is no doubt. There is nothing equivocal. There are no ambiguities. What happened on Bloody Sunday was both unjustified and unjustifiable. It was wrong. Lord Saville concludes that the soldiers of Support Company who went into the Bogside,

‘did so as a result of an order ... which should have not been given’,

by their commander; that, on balance, the first shot in the vicinity of the march was fired by the British Army; that:

‘None of the casualties shot by soldiers of Support Company was armed with a firearm’;

that:

‘There was some firing by republican paramilitaries … but … none of this firing provided any justification for the shooting of the civilian casualties’;

and that:

‘In no case was any warning given before soldiers opened fire’.

He also finds that Support Company,

‘reacted by losing their self-control ... forgetting or ignoring their instructions and training’,

with,

‘a serious and widespread loss of fire discipline’.

He finds that:

‘Despite the contrary evidence given by soldiers … none of them fired in response to attacks or threatened attacks by nail or petrol bombers’,

and that many of the soldiers,

‘knowingly put forward false accounts in order to seek to justify their firing’.

What is more, Lord Saville says that some of those killed or injured were clearly fleeing or going to the assistance of others who were dying. The report refers to one person who was shot while,

‘crawling … away from the soldiers’.

Another was shot, in all probability,

‘when he was lying mortally wounded on the ground’,

and a father was,

‘hit and injured by Army gunfire after he had gone to ... tend his son’.

For those looking for statements of innocence, Saville says:

‘The immediate responsibility for the deaths and injuries on Bloody Sunday lies with those members of Support Company whose unjustifiable firing was the cause of those deaths and injuries’,

and, crucially, that,

‘none of the casualties was posing a threat of causing death or serious injury, or indeed was doing anything else that could on any view justify their shooting’.

For those people who were looking for the report to use terms like ‘murder’ and ‘unlawful killing’, I remind the House that these judgments are not matters for a tribunal or for us as politicians to determine.

These are shocking conclusions to read and shocking words to have to say, but you do not defend the British Army by defending the indefensible. We do not honour all those who have served with distinction in keeping the peace and upholding the rule of law in Northern Ireland by hiding from the truth. So there is no point in trying to soften or equivocate what is in this report. It is clear from the tribunal's authoritative conclusions that the events of Bloody Sunday were in no way justified.

I know some people wonder whether, nearly 40 years on from an event, a Prime Minister needs to issue an apology. For someone of my generation, this is a period we feel we have learned about rather than lived through. But what happened should never, ever have happened. The families of those who died should not have had to live with the pain and hurt of that day, and a lifetime of loss. Some members of our Armed Forces acted wrongly. The Government are ultimately responsible for the conduct of the Armed Forces. And for that, on behalf of the Government, and indeed our country, I am deeply sorry.

Just as this report is clear that the actions of that day were unjustifiable, so too is it clear in some of its other findings. Those looking for premeditation, those looking for a plan, those looking for a conspiracy involving senior politicians or senior members of the Armed Forces—they will not find it in this report.

Indeed, Lord Saville finds no evidence that the events of Bloody Sunday were premeditated. He concludes that the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland Governments, and the Army, neither tolerated nor encouraged,

‘the use of unjustified lethal force’.

He makes no suggestion of a government cover-up, and he credits the UK Government with working towards a peaceful political settlement in Northern Ireland.

The report also specifically deals with the actions of key individuals in the Army, in politics and beyond, including Major General Ford, Brigadier MacLellan and Lieutenant Colonel Wilford. In each case, the tribunal's findings are clear. It also does the same for Martin McGuinness. It specifically finds he was present and probably armed with a ‘sub-machine gun’, but concludes that,

‘we are sure that he did not engage in any activity that provided any of the soldiers with any justification for opening fire’.

While in no way justifying the events of 30 January 1972, we should acknowledge the background to the events of Bloody Sunday. Since 1969 the security situation in Northern Ireland had been declining significantly. Three days before Bloody Sunday, two RUC officers, one a Catholic, were shot by the IRA in Londonderry—the first police officers killed in the city during the Troubles. A third of the city of Derry had become a no-go area for the RUC and the Army. In the end, 1972 was to prove Northern Ireland's bloodiest year by far, with nearly 500 people killed.

Let us also remember, Bloody Sunday is not the defining story of the service that the British Army gave in Northern Ireland from 1969 to 2007. This was known as Operation Banner, the longest continuous operation in British military history, spanning 38 years and in which over 250,000 people served. Our Armed Forces displayed enormous courage and professionalism in upholding democracy and the rule of law in Northern Ireland. Acting in support of the police, they played a major part in setting the conditions that have made peaceful politics possible. And over 1,000 members of the security forces lost their lives to that cause. Without their work the peace process would not have happened. Of course, some mistakes were undoubtedly made. But lessons were also learnt. Once again I put on record the immense debt of gratitude we all owe those who served in Northern Ireland.

I also thank the tribunal for its work and all those who displayed great courage in giving evidence. I would also like to acknowledge the grief of the families of those killed. They have pursued their long campaign over 38 years with great patience. Nothing can bring back those who were killed, but I hope, as one relative has put it, the truth coming out can set people free.

John Major said that he was open to a new inquiry. Tony Blair then set it up. This was accepted by the then Leader of the Opposition. Of course, none of us anticipated that the Saville inquiry would last 12 years or cost £200 million. Our views on that are well documented. It is right to pursue the truth with vigour and thoroughness, but let me reassure the House that there will be no more open-ended and costly inquiries into the past.

But today is not about the controversies surrounding the process: it is about the substance, about what this report tells us. Everyone should have the chance to examine the complete findings, and that is why the report is being published in full. Running to more than 5,000 pages, it is being published in 10 volumes. Naturally, it will take all of us some time to digest the report’s full findings and understand all the implications. The House will have the opportunity for a full day’s debate this autumn, and in the mean time, I have asked my right honourable friends the Secretaries of State for Northern Ireland and Defence to report back to me on all the issues that arise from it.

This report and the inquiry itself demonstrate how a state should hold itself to account, and how we are determined at all times, no matter how difficult, to judge ourselves against the highest standards. Openness and frankness about the past, however painful, do not make us weaker—they make us stronger. That is one of the things that differentiates us from terrorists. We should never forget that over 3,500 people—people from every community—lost their lives in Northern Ireland, the overwhelming majority killed by terrorists.

There were many terrible atrocities. Politically motivated violence was never justified, whichever side it came from. And it can never be justified by those criminal gangs that today want to drag Northern Ireland back to its bitter and bloody past. No Government I lead will ever put those who fight to defend democracy on an equal footing with those who continue to seek to destroy it.

But neither will we hide from the truth that confronts us today. In the words of Lord Saville:

‘What happened on Bloody Sunday strengthened the Provisional IRA, increased nationalist resentment and hostility towards the Army and exacerbated the violent conflict of the years that followed. Bloody Sunday was a tragedy for the bereaved and the wounded, and a catastrophe for the people of Northern Ireland’.

These are words we cannot and must not ignore.

But what I hope this report can also do is to mark the moment when we come together in this House and in the communities we represent: come together to acknowledge our shared history, even where it divides us; and come together to close this painful chapter on Northern Ireland’s troubled past. That is not to say that we must ever forget or dismiss that past, but we must also move on. Northern Ireland has been transformed over the past 20 years, and all of us in Westminster and Stormont must continue that work of change, coming together with all the people of Northern Ireland to build a stable, peaceful, prosperous and shared future.

It is with that determination that I commend this Statement to the House”.

My Lords, I thank the Leader of the House for repeating the Statement from the Prime Minister. As he said, it is more than 12 years since the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, set up the Saville inquiry to establish the truth of what happened on what became known as Bloody Sunday. For the 14 families whose loved ones died and the 13 individuals who were injured, for the soldiers and their families, and for all those whose lives would never be the same again as a consequence of Bloody Sunday, this report has been long awaited. There is no doubt that, for all of them and indeed for the future of Northern Ireland, the Saville report is of great consequence. The Leader of the House, in repeating the Statement from the Prime Minister, has described the conclusions of the report as “shocking”. I have not yet had the opportunity to read the report, but it is clear from the Statement that the conclusions of the report are indeed shocking. They are appalling conclusions.

Perhaps I may remind your Lordships’ House of what Tony Blair said to the other place on the day that the House agreed to establish the Saville Inquiry. He said:

“Bloody Sunday was a tragic day for all concerned. We must all wish that it had never happened”.—[Official Report, Commons, 29/1/98; col. 503.]

Perhaps I may also reiterate two further things that Tony Blair pointed to when the inquiry was established: the dignity of the bereaved families whose campaign was about searching for the truth, and the recognition of the thousands of lives that had been lost in Northern Ireland through terrorism.

I also restate our sincere admiration for the way in which our security forces have responded over nearly four decades to terrorism in Northern Ireland. They have operated in difficult and dangerous circumstances and many have lost their lives. Nothing in today’s report can or should diminish the record of service given by so many brave men and women from our Armed Forces.

Will the Leader of the House acknowledge that the setting up of the Saville inquiry was necessary because of the inadequacy of the inquiry concluded by Lord Widgery 11 weeks after Bloody Sunday? The inadequacy of that report deepened the sense of grievance and added to the pain of the families of those who died or were injured. Will the Leader of the House join me in reminding your Lordships’ House that establishing the Saville inquiry to search for the truth played an important part in the peace process, which has done so much to transform Northern Ireland since the Good Friday agreement? As Tony Blair said in the other place, the aim in setting it up was,

“not to accuse individuals or institutions, or to invite fresh recriminations, but to establish the truth about what happened on that day”.—[Official Report, Commons, 29/1/98; col. 503.].

The issue of the considerable cost of this inquiry should not be confused with its value in both establishing the truth and strengthening the peace process.

Because this report is extensive, the Government are seeking in the other place a full day’s parliamentary debate on it. We will in this House wish to reflect on how best your Lordships’ House can consider the report, but I urge the Leader of the House to join me in seeking time in this Chamber for a similar consideration of the report.

The Prime Minister and the Government have had only 24 hours to consider the report. I of course understand that the Government will need to give the report further detailed consideration before they are able to make clear what action they are proposing to take arising out of it. The Leader of the House has said that the Secretaries of State for Northern Ireland and for Defence will report back to the Prime Minister on all the issues involved. But, ahead of that, in terms of the process by which the Government will reach decisions on their next step, can the Leader of the House tell us when he will be in a position to say what, if any, action will be taken in government as a result of the findings of the Saville report; what will be the decision-making processes; and, as the Government take through those actions, whether they will be as transparent as possible commensurate with national security?

The Government have given in their Statement a clear apology. We welcome that and we share in it. Does the Leader of the House agree that this will be of great importance for the families who have grieved all these years, not only for the loss but for the sense of injustice?

I hope that these findings can be a further step towards peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland. The peace process is a great achievement by the people, as well as the politicians, of Northern Ireland. It is built on the values of fairness, equality, truth and justice. Parliament, not least in agreeing to the Saville inquiry, has played its part. But we must never take for granted the peace process and its foundations. The Belfast agreement, the St Andrews agreement and, of course, this year the Hillsborough Castle agreement are all great milestones in the journey towards a lasting peace. The completion of devolution only a few weeks ago is relatively new and fragile and still requires great care.

The Statement by the Leader of the House says that the Government believe that what happened on Bloody Sunday was both unjustified and unjustifiable—it was wrong. We agree. We agree, too, with the Prime Minister’s view that you do not defend the British Army by defending the indefensible. However, our response to Saville must be as measured as it must be proportionate. We have sought the truth and now we must have understanding and reconciliation. I conclude by hoping that while people will not forget what happened on that day, this report can help them to find a way of both living with the past and looking to the future.

My Lords, the tone of the Leader of the Opposition was statesmanlike and entirely appropriate to the Statement I repeated a moment ago. The conclusions of the report truly are shocking. As the Prime Minister’s Statement says, the conclusions of this report are absolutely clear—the events of Bloody Sunday were unjustified and unjustifiable.

The report speaks for itself. The conclusions made painful reading for those—and I include all noble Lords in this—who want to measure the actions of the state and our Armed Forces by the highest standards. It is a long report, but there is an admirably written list of conclusions which I hope is now available in the Printed Paper Office.

The noble Baroness asked whether I thought that the Saville inquiry was necessary. Indeed we do; it was most necessary. It was entirely right and appropriate and, as the noble Baroness will remember, we supported it at the time it was set up.

History will no doubt take its own view of what happened to the Widgery report. It was of course written in some haste very shortly after the event and during a period of some parliamentary distress at what had happened. That does not necessarily excuse it, but the report which we have today is definitive and certainly draws a line under our knowledge of what occurred on that day.

I am readily happy to accept that there could be a debate on this subject and its aftermath, perhaps after a few months when noble Lords have had an opportunity to read the report. If the Opposition were to make such a request, I am sure that it would be met most positively by my noble friend the Chief Whip.

Specifically, the noble Baroness asked about the Secretaries of State for Defence and for Northern Ireland, who have been invited by the Prime Minister to revert to him on their view as to what the next steps should be. The decision process will be influenced largely by reading about what happened. I think that the noble Baroness was asking indirectly what would happen to the soldiers who have been identified in the report. Everyone knows that Ministers do not control prosecutions, and they certainly will not determine the outcome on this matter. The issue of prosecutions is solely for the Public Prosecution Service acting independently. I am informed by the Advocate-General for Northern Ireland that the Director of Public Prosecutions, together with the Chief Constable, will consider the report and determine whether any criminal investigation is required.

That is the process that should now take place. I know that all who are involved, whether it is prosecuting authorities, former members of the Armed Forces or the families affected, will take trouble to read and look carefully at the findings of the report.

My Lords, my noble friend the Leader of the House is to be thanked for repeating this grave Statement. It makes this a solemn day in your Lordships’ House and in my own part of the United Kingdom, not only because it recalls to our minds the terrible events of Bloody Sunday but also because it was a watershed event in the history of the Troubles. As my noble friend repeated in the Statement, so many people lost their lives in 1972, which was the worst year, and in the years following. It reminds us of all those who lost their lives or who were injured and grief-stricken by the events which followed that terrible time.

My noble friend referred to the length and detail of the report—it is 5,000 pages long. There is much reading to be done, so I am gratified by his indication that, after some time to read and study the report, there will be the opportunity for us to debate the matter in your Lordships’ House in a properly reflective frame of mind and at an appropriate time.

However, is my noble friend aware that the most important part of the Statement today is not just the reflection on the findings of the report in general terms or even the fact of the report? No less important is the fact that it clearly exonerates as innocent those people who were injured and killed on the day, for a pall has hung over them and their families during those many years. However, most important of all is the fact that the British Government have given a clear, fulsome and unequivocal apology to all the communities involved. That is perhaps one of the most important potential contributions to the healing which we all now hope will begin to be seen in Northern Ireland.

My noble friend is right to talk about the healing process. Of the many noble Lords who have been involved in the history of these troubles over many years, my noble friend is one who can claim to share a large part of that experience. My noble friend referred to the civilians who were affected. It is worth quoting from the report itself. The noble Lord, Lord Saville, says, in paragraph 3.70:

“None of the casualties shot by soldiers of Support Company was armed with a firearm or (with the probable exception of Gerald Donaghey) a bomb of any description. None was posing any threat of causing death or serious injury. In no case was any warning given before soldiers opened fire”.

I think that that answers my noble friend’s point on lifting any question of doubt in the minds of families who lost loved ones on that day, when there has been some potential stain. That today is completely removed. I entirely agree with what my noble friend said: the apology made by the Prime Minister on behalf of us all is unequivocal. We must all hope that it is part of the process that continues to heal the wounds in Northern Ireland.

While I thank the noble Lord for repeating the Statement in this House, as someone who was on duty on 30 January 1972, I deeply regret the death of 13 people in Derry on that day. However, I cannot be as magnanimous or one-eyed as I feel that the Saville report has been—and, I am sorry to say, this Government have been in how they have received it. Before Bloody Sunday, 180 people died in Northern Ireland, victims of terrorism. The 13 deaths are regrettable, but no more regrettable than the other 167—the 94 per cent of those who died that year. In the year 1972, 490-odd people died. The deaths in Derry have been investigated at the cost of almost £200 million, when we all knew the answer and that a huge error had been made. Those 13 deaths represented 2.5 per cent of the deaths in 1972.

As someone who, as a soldier, ran the gauntlet of planned IRA assassination and personal attack, I say to noble Lords that it is very easy to be humble on an occasion such as this—but one has to remember the many people who were not rioting and who had not broken away from a peaceful parade to confront soldiers who themselves had never been trained for that sort of confrontation in an urban guerrilla warfare situation. That is the background against which I hope noble Lords and the Government will view this report overall. I hope that we will not dismiss those many deaths into which there has not been an inquiry costing £200 million.

The noble Lord speaks from tremendous experience and knowledge, as he has shown today, and he is right to acknowledge the background to the events of Bloody Sunday. The report is clear that the circumstances of Northern Ireland and Derry in 1972 were tense and bordering on chaotic. It was the bloodiest year of the Troubles. However, we should not allow Bloody Sunday to define the 38 years of the military operation in Northern Ireland in which so many of our brave service men and women served, as well as noble and gallant Lords. We cannot doubt the courage and professionalism of the vast majority who worked to uphold democracy and the rule of law in Northern Ireland, and I am sure that all noble Lords will want to associate themselves with my remark that our Armed Forces today continue to display great character in adversity.

My Lords, the publication of the report is a sad, sad story, and how it has taken so much time is beyond my comprehension. I was the Attorney-General when it began, and it was never contemplated that it would take a fraction of this time. But the report’s findings of accountability are clear, and I welcome that. I wish to place on record the enormous time and energy that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Saville, has put into the work of the report.

In view of the time that has elapsed and the number of amnesties that have been given, will Her Majesty’s Government invite the Director of Public Prosecutions in Northern Ireland to give an early indication of whether it is now in the public interest to prosecute?

My Lords, the noble and learned Lord was involved at the time when the inquiry was set up. Although he did not quite say it, I would agree with him that today is perhaps not the time to look at how long it took or how much it cost rather than at the fact that it has at last reported, and in an unequivocal way.

I do not think it would be right for the Government to direct the prosecuting authorities. The prosecuting authorities in Northern Ireland will have seen what has happened—they will no doubt have their own copy of the report—and they must make their own assessment. So much water has gone under the bridge over so much time that it would be far better now to let the prosecuting authorities come to their own judgment in their own time and make their views known, as I am sure the House will agree they are all capable of doing.

My Lords, the Leader of the House is right in saying that it is clear that on Bloody Sunday 14 innocent people were killed, that the killings were all individually wrong and that mistakes were made in the planning and conduct of the operation. As he also says, however, lessons were learnt, and we saw the fruits of those lessons over the years.

The noble Lord is also right to point to the context. As has been mentioned, there was a serious terrorist campaign already in existence well before Bloody Sunday. That campaign was launched within a mature democracy where there were plenty of opportunities for people to seek reform and change through peaceful and democratic methods, but those who were perpetrating the campaign—the Provisional IRA—knew that their objects could not be achieved by democratic methods. It would be a perversion of what happened on Bloody Sunday if those events were then used to try to justify the wholly unjustifiable campaign that the Provisional IRA launched in 1970.

My Lords, no one seeks to justify the campaign of paramilitaries, whatever side they came from, or indeed the deaths that have occurred over the past 40 years in Northern Ireland as a result of that campaign. We have moved a long way from that stage. A number of agreements have been struck, and we now have a great opportunity to bring peace and stability to Northern Ireland, which I know my noble friend wholly supports.

My Lords, I was a Minister in Northern Ireland when the report was initiated, and I have waited a long time for the results as we have seen them today. There cannot be many countries that could be quite so honest about wrongs that they had committed in the past, and I hope that that will be a signal to other countries as well when they look at what we have done.

It is important that at least one clear conclusion has come out: that the civilians who were shot were unarmed and in no way a threat to peace and law and order in Derry on that day. Above all, we need time to consider the report and I hope that we can resist the temptation to come to too many conclusions at this stage. Otherwise, we are doing an injustice to the work that has gone into the report and, indeed, to the many witnesses who have given evidence. However, I have three particular hopes on which I hope the Leader of the House will agree.

First, I hope that the families of those shot will find a sense of relief and closure after the many years of pain that they have suffered; if the report achieves that, it will have done a great deal. Secondly, I hope that everyone will acknowledge the enormous progress that has been made in Northern Ireland since 1972. It is a quite different place from what it was on that tragic day when those people were shot. Thirdly, I hope—and I trust that the noble Lord will agree—that the result of this will be that the peace process will be strengthened. That will be of benefit to all the people of Northern Ireland and, indeed, of Ireland.

My Lords, I completely agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, said. As a former Minister, he is right about what he said about the inquiry and right that we should not rush to early conclusions. This is an enormous report to read. Having said that, the document on the conclusions is unequivocal and I know that he will take the trouble to read it, as we all need time to read it and to think about its implications. But it must be right for all of us that this is part of strengthening the peace process. It will be up to individuals, the families, defenders of the Armed Forces and others to recognise what has happened, and we should look forwards, not backwards. As the noble Lord rightly says, the Northern Ireland of 1972 is entirely different from that of 2010, and none of us can wish to go back to that period.

My Lords, my noble friend the Leader is absolutely right that the Northern Ireland of today is very different from that of 1972, but since then terrorists from both sides of the divide have been released from prison and from long sentences there. Indeed, convictions have not been pressed as part of the peace process. People will find it very difficult to understand that the same threat of prosecution is not withdrawn from our troops for offences that, let us face it, may have been committed the best part of 40 years ago.

My Lords, that is a matter for the prosecuting authorities and not for politicians, but if any soldiers are accused of these crimes they will of course be supported by the Ministry of Defence, who will provide them with the legal advice that they need so that they can defend themselves properly. It is right that these decisions are made by the prosecuting authorities rather than by us.

My Lords, the Saville inquiry, which has been published today, looked into 13 deaths—there were actually 14, because one died later. However, this House should take note that we are perhaps setting a hierarchy of victims here and be aware that in south Armagh, for instance, over 300 murders remain unsolved today. Should this House not be aware that the Saville report has the potential to set Northern Ireland back 30 years rather than take it forward? Is every death in Northern Ireland not important to this House? Why should there be a particular inquiry into 13 plus one deaths—that is, 14—when countless hundreds of deaths have not been resolved? There are many issues relating to that. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Saville, had at his disposal some £200 million to bring about this report, yet the historical inquiry team, which looks at all the issues in Northern Ireland over the past 35 years, has at its disposal some £30 million. Is there not an inequality here?

My Lords, there is no hierarchy of victims and no inequality whatever here. What happened was an extremely rare case of soldiers who killed by opening fire on a march when they had no belief that they were under threat. That is what sets it apart from everything else. It is why Bloody Sunday has cast such a long shadow down the ages. Every death is to be deeply regretted, wherever it occurred, but today we are dealing with the results of the Bloody Sunday inquiry.

The Government ought to be congratulated on making this courageous response to the Saville report. I thank the Leader of the House for the way that he has reacted to this very sad situation, which does not divide the House apart from a few figures. What has happened today is capable of opening a new chapter in the sorry history of Northern Ireland.

My Lords, I very much agree with what the noble Lord said and hope that he is correct in his conclusion.

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord the Leader of the House for the clear way in which he laid out for us the painful conclusions of the tribunal of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Saville. I declare an interest since sometime in the last century I was a historical adviser to that tribunal.

There was one point in the noble Lord’s Statement that I would like to pick up on. He reminded us that our security forces lost 1,000 lives in Northern Ireland. That is around 28 to 30 per cent of the total amount of life lost. The security forces were responsible for about 10 per cent of the fatalities suffered. On the other hand, the Provisional IRA and its allies took slightly less than 60 per cent of all the lives that were lost and accounted for only 12 to 13 per cent of the total fatalities suffered. In other words, our security forces were much more likely to fall in the line of duty than those who had the advantage of surprise. This is my question: does the noble Lord concede that the Widgery report—much inferior as it undoubtedly is to the report of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Saville—sent a signal to the Army about reckless firing on the day; that our Army understood and internalised that message; and that that helps to explain the professionalism and restraint shown by the British Army in Northern Ireland since Bloody Sunday?

My Lords, I cannot possibly speculate as to the effects of the Widgery report on the British Army. The history of the past 38 years stands for itself. However, we are now where we are; we now have, fortunately, a Northern Ireland that is more peaceful today than it has been for many years, with a democratic, directly elected Government and the possibility of genuine unity across the communities, leading to that long-term peace, stability and prosperity that we should all want. The noble Lord, Lord Bew, and others who have spoken from the Cross Benches have great knowledge and experience of, and influence in, what happens in Northern Ireland. I know from what they have said today, and from speaking to them privately, that they want what all of us in this House want—for that peace in Northern Ireland to continue.