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Overseas Operations: Civil Claims

Volume 683: debated on Monday 2 November 2020

What assessment he has made of the potential effect of the overseas operations Bill on the ability of service personnel to make civil claims against his Department. (908028)

The Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill will not prevent service personnel and veterans from bringing personal injury claims against the Ministry of Defence in relation to overseas operations within six years. Historically, we assess that the vast majority—around 94%—have done so already for claims relating to overseas operations. We will, of course, aim to ensure that everybody in the armed forces community is made aware of their right to bring claims and of changes to the relevant time limits for doing so in relation to overseas operations.

I thank the Minister for his answer. Does he agree that the rhetoric around exemptions from torture mislead colleagues and the public and only serve to misrepresent the purposes of this long overdue Bill?

No, but let me be really clear on these issues around torture. Nobody on this side of the House, or on whatever side of the House they are, would want to reduce our safeguards against torture. We have to be realistic about what this country has put its servicemen and women through in terms of historical allegations. Credible allegations will always be investigated. It is not right to say that it is almost impossible to prosecute, and people peddling that view know it to be untrue. I am happy to work with anybody to improve this Bill, but we must operate in the real world.