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Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill

Volume 829: debated on Wednesday 29 March 2023

Committee (3rd Day)

Relevant documents: 9th and 20th Reports from the Delegated Powers Committee, 5th Report from the Constitution Committee, 6th Report from the Joint Committee on Human Rights

Clause 18: Immunity from prosecution

Amendment 116

Moved by

116: Clause 18, page 16, line 35, at end insert—

‘‘(6A) Condition D: the immunity requests panel is satisfied that P is not engaged in activity that is likely to be understood by a reasonable person as precluding reconciliation.(6B) For the purposes of subsection (6A), “activity” means conduct, speech or writing of any description by P which serves to publicise and promote P’s disclosed conduct or glorify the commission, preparation or instigation of any Troubles-related offence.(6C) For the purposes of subsection (6A), “activity” means any activity described in subsection (6B) irrespective of whether P seeks or receives financial reward.”Member’s explanatory statement

This amendment would require an individual to be disengaged from activity which would be reasonably regarded as precluding reconciliation in order to be eligible for immunity from prosecution.

My Lords, in this group, I will speak to Amendments 116, 117, 118, 127, 132 and 177 in my name and those of my noble friends. Amendment 116 would

“require an individual to be disengaged from activity which would be reasonably regarded as precluding reconciliation in order to be eligible for immunity from prosecution.”

Of course, at Second Reading, we debated at some length the general issues regarding the Bill, but we now come to the glorification of terrorism, which has become a very real issue in Northern Ireland over recent months and the last number of years, with the rising tide of people engaged in such activity. We have seen sickening videos of many young people, born long after the ceasefires and the Belfast agreement, seemingly revelling in glorifying IRA terrorism. Others engage in other activities on their side as well, but it seems particularly prevalent among young republicans, and it is causing real concern that there seems to be a sanitisation of the IRA’s murderous campaign.

This is not helped by the vice-president of Sinn Féin in Northern Ireland, Michelle O’Neill, who has gone around telling people that there was no alternative to the IRA’s campaign. But of course, as the leaders of democratic nationalism made clear during all of those years, there always was an alternative and there was never an excuse for murder, violence and mayhem. When that is the sort of leadership—or lack of leadership —provided, it is little wonder that people now take their lead from that and say, “If this is what our leaders are saying, we should glorify these people and celebrate them”, rather than making it clear that there was no space for such murderous activity. That is of course compounded by numerous examples of leading Sinn Féin elected representatives attending memorials, eulogising terrorists, praising their past activities and justifying murder today. It is one thing to have supported this kind of murderous campaign at the time, but still to eulogise that murderous activity nowadays is totally unacceptable.

The building in which the MP for South Down has his office is named after two IRA terrorists. You can hardly say that that is inclusive and welcoming. You have GAA clubs commemorating IRA terrorists on their property—not in their capacity as members of the GAA club, or even as part of the GAA in general, but as volunteers in the Provisional IRA in East Tyrone. This is doing absolutely nothing for people’s faith in the restoration of the devolved Administration at Stormont. We debated earlier the issues around that, including all the concerns, difficulties and challenges. There is a very toxic situation in Northern Ireland at the moment, and there are many examples where those elected to the Stormont Assembly are acting in a way which is, I fear, stoking the flames of sectarianism and stoking this toxic atmosphere in which violence is eulogised and glorified.

In this group of amendments, we are putting forward an attempt to tackle some of those issues, and we are seeking for the Government to take on board the real concerns in this area—reconciliation and legacy. We need to address seriously the ongoing problem of the glorification of violence. I thank the Minister for his engagement with me and my colleagues and for our discussions thus far. I hope that we can find a way forward to try to deal with this matter as part of the Bill.

“Reconciliation”, which I have already mentioned, is contained in the title of the Bill. But, as we have noted, it appears that there is not much of substance in relation to reconciliation in the Bill, as the noble Baroness, Lady O’Loan, and others have pointed out. There is very little reference to the concept. We believe that it should be made clear in Clause 18 that the conditions for immunity—which are outlined in Clause 18(1)—should be applied not just at the point when the perpetrator applies for immunity but thereafter, so that, if an individual is engaged in activity which could be reasonably regarded as precluding reconciliation by glorifying violence, eroding support for the rule of law or retraumatising victims, that will have an effect on their status of immunity, if the Bill is to go through.

Of course, it is important to stress that the harm posed by such activity extends much further than just the injustice of a perpetrator seeking or obtaining personal reward or profit from his or her criminal deeds. That is why, while I have no difficulty with the amendments proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Murphy, Amendments 148 and 167, I do not believe that they go far enough. This condition should also capture any conduct, speech or written material that has the effect, or can be reasonably regarded to have the effect, of influencing public opinion on the past in such a way that justifies and sanitises violence. It should also cover the situation in which an individual attempts to contact relatives of victims without their consent.

I shall go reasonably quickly through the amendments, because it has been a long day thus far, but it is important to outline briefly what they attempt to do. Amendment 117 would

“require the Commissioner for Investigations to refer a file to the PPS when an individual is found to have engaged in activity likely to prevent reconciliation”.

In a scenario where the immunity request panel receives conclusive evidence that an applicant or recipient of immunity is engaged in activity that runs against the grain of reconciliation for the crimes that they have perpetrated, the ICRIR should be under an obligation to assess whether they have committed an offence under the Terrorism Act or the separate, aggravated offence that we propose in respect of the glorification of terrorism in Amendment 177. There should be a duty to pass a file to the Public Prosecution Service for direction. That link between potential possible identified offences and criminal enforcement should be clear in the Bill.

Amendment 118

“is intended to prevent the grant of immunity to any person subject to active proceedings who has moved abroad to escape prosecution”.

This is a separate amendment, not so much on the issue that I have spoken about thus far but related to it. We have had examples of well-known individuals who have left the jurisdiction, gone abroad and escaped prosecution. As drafted, the Bill could have the effect of encouraging such people to return to Northern Ireland to live out their final days there in close proximity to those whom they have terrorised. That is because there is no stipulation for anyone previously subject to a warrant, arrest or charge, who subsequently fled Northern Ireland, to be prohibited from claiming immunity. The amendment seeks to address that issue.

Amendment 127

“is intended to clarify that the granting of immunity under this Bill does not preclude prosecution of an individual for offences of encouraging and glorifying terrorism”.

Legitimate concerns have been raised surrounding the framing of general immunity. In the other place, colleagues tabled amendments in an effort to get more clarity on the parameters of this issue. It is prudent that the wording of Clause 18 should prevent the perpetrator from contending that the scope of his or her immunity extends to waiving criminal liability for activities that encourage or glorify terrorism. Immunity must be specific to offences that the conduct disclosed by an individual clearly identifies involvement in. Precluding prosecution for a Troubles-related offence under certain conditions is entirely different from that offence no longer being treated as criminal under the law. In truth, those lines should never have been allowed to become blurred.

I have referred to the amendments in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Murphy, and we have a lot of sympathy with them, as I say. But we believe that, in ruling out the idea of profit from people’s crimes, the legislation should go further. It is not enough simply to say that a recipient of immunity cannot obtain reward from exploiting their offence: the act of speaking or writing about the offence in such a way that promotes or glorifies it should itself be prohibited, whether or not reward is in play.

I beg to move, and look forward to hearing the contributions of other noble Lords and noble Baronesses.

My Lords, I support this group of amendments. I ask the Committee to consider them not in the detail of the proposed wording but in the entirety of their spirit and background, with which the Minister is very well acquainted. It is vital, as the noble Lord, Lord Dodds, has just said, that we take a wide view of what should be removed from immunity.

I have devoted a great deal—in fact, most—of my adult life to working for reconciliation. In the process, I have met many young people sucked into the paramilitary machine, not always realising what was happening to them—that was the human tragedy of it—but living to regret that they had allowed this to happen in their lives. I see these amendments in terms of those young people. I have seen what some of them have managed to do with their lives You might perhaps call it reconciliation; I prefer to call it a reawakening of conscience and of isolation from paramilitary activity. The success stories that I have seen have been from those who recognised that there was not an easy path to follow but that it was worth following. Those are the young people who these amendments are mostly targeted at.

I have seen those who have paid the price for what they have done. They have served their time and have managed to build some sort of decency to their lives. But I have also seen some who are extremely subtle in the way in which they have embarked on a continuing career that encourages others to be involved in criminal activity. I put it on the record, and ask the Minister to consider in his response, that we have to take the broadest possible attitude to the way in which society deals with what we call reconciliation, particularly in Northern Ireland terms. It is easy to write about it, to make money out of it and to establish it in programmes, the media and published work—you name it, it is there. This group of amendments reminds the Committee that we have to be realistic and to recognise that these things do happen and that there is no way in which any society moving forward can grant immunity to those who constantly find ways of escaping the net that the noble Lord, Lord Dodds, has spoken of.

Lastly, in supporting these amendments, I urge the Minister to recognise that there is a reality about them that perhaps was not captured by the title of this legislation. The reality is that reconciliation can be judged only by your actions, your way of life and the purpose to which you put it, rather than just saying it with your lips.

My Lords, I support these amendments and I support what the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Eames, just said about children. Children are the future for Northern Ireland, and integrated education and more understanding between the communities are all-important. This form of glorification is directly appealing to them. The integrated schools are fine. We are also moving into joint campuses—or I hope we are. In my local village of Brookeborough, they currently do one day of joint education between the Catholic maintained school and the state primary school. Half the school goes each way; I happened to go and visit it the other day. It was really good and the children were really enjoying it; it was fantastic. Another school further up the country was meant to be on the list but has been taken off the list because it was not doing joint education before and the parents all objected. The key is that integrating schools is by choice. The future is that these schools will be integrated because that is the only place they will have to go to school, but all this glorification—these songs and everything else—is in direct conflict with that.

I was speaking to a principal who said that a few years ago she wanted to introduce Gaelic football to the state primary school, which was a good thing. However, an incident like this happened on the day they were going to do it for the first time; half the parents walked in, removed their children for the day and said, “We are not doing it”. It is not just the victims and their families getting humiliated by these songs and other things, which is bad enough. It is the future, and if we allow this to go on and it becomes a lovely thing to do, to sing those songs outside a school or close to children whose grandparents may have been killed—uncles, aunts, whatever—this is really important. We must not look at it as something that is acceptable. It would be totally unacceptable if somebody who supported ISIS went to Borough Market and shouted “Up ISIS” or whatever. Straightaway, in this country, they would be landed on and would not get away. With us, we accept it, but this is about our future and the children. It is with the primary schoolchildren that it has to start. We should support these amendments.

My Lords, anyone who lived through the years of Northern Ireland’s violent past will understand that we want to save the present generation and generations to come from such an awful fate. Practically every week I meet a family that still feels the hurt and endures the scars of the past, whether it be the widow who still grieves or the little boy or girl who has had to be raised without a father because their father was brutally murdered.

In light of the serious, severe threat for the future that has now been announced by the Secretary of State, we need to be very careful. If folks are glorifying acts of terrorism, young people can easily get sucked into this and think that it is just a bit of a thrill. The lives of those who get involved will be scarred. I am speaking about those who are actually involved in acts of terrorism, because their lives, their conscience, will never be the same again. Quite a number of them cannot live with their conscience and quite a number have done themselves to death.

The glorification of murder cannot be accepted. It is very sad when the leader of Sinn Féin in Northern Ireland excuses the years of murder and mayhem that the Province experienced, stating that there was no alternative. Ministers in the past have rightly said that there always was an alternative, and that was the pathway of democracy. But the reason Michelle O’Neill says this is that they are rewriting history. They want to excuse and cover up the bloodthirsty past that many of them have.

I am fearful that this is the mindset that, even today, political leaders in Sinn Féin engender in the hearts of their young people. From their earliest days, they have ingrained in their minds a deep hatred of Britishness and those who desire to remain British. When I was growing up in Northern Ireland, people could live together. They could have completely different political outlooks but nevertheless lived within one community. They lived and let live.

History reminds us that there is a small step from holding that hatred in your heart to its expression in acts of murder and brutality. It is disgusting that over recent months we have seen an increasing number of incidents where young nationalists and republicans chant “Up the Ra!”, whether it be at Gaelic matches, in bars or at west Belfast community events, glorifying some of the vilest past atrocities that many of us lived through.

Skulking behind a hedge in the darkness and gunning down a member of the security forces during the Troubles was not an act of bravery. Neither was it courageous to set up your workmate, who fed you from his lunchbox, only to plant a bomb under his van at work, as happened in West Tyrone to a young man I knew very well. In Nan Rices Bar in Newry, social media displays crowds of young people singing this republican propaganda. Can anyone imagine what the innocent victims of terrorism feel when they hear this laughter and singing commemorating some of the vilest atrocities in our Province? It opens up deep wounds that only those who have experienced it will understand.

There is nothing to be proud of in acts of terror of any community. We must therefore do everything within our power to ensure that terrorists are taken off the backs of the people of the Province and that the Government never again permit through appeasement, as they have in the past, terrorists to get a grip of the community. I wholeheartedly support the amendments in my noble friend’s name.

My Lords, these amendments relate to Clause 18 and immunity from prosecution. Those provisions are profoundly flawed, as was stated just two weeks ago by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, which condemned the immunity provisions.

This group of amendments is described as relating to glorification. They seek to ensure that a person seeking to avail themselves of the immunity provisions that we have discussed, as the noble Lord, Lord Dodds, said, is not engaged in activity which precludes reconciliation. For that reason, I support all the amendments from the noble Lord. We have seen a whole range of activity which undermines attempts at reconciliation on both sides of the community and activity referring to past atrocities and glorifying those involved. The noble Lord gave a very graphic example in South Down.

I think also of the murals, in particular one in north Belfast that I regard almost with terror; it depicts two hooded gunmen who say, “Prepared for peace, ready for war”. It is a declaration of war and has stayed there regardless of all the attempts at promoting reconciliation. Many of these murals have been painted over, but some very deliberately have not. The problem is that there is nothing to be glorified in shootings, bombings, torture or exile. We all know that what results from those is pain, trauma and terror that sometimes lasts a lifetime.

I have worked with people who were at some of those incidents, where gunmen arrived to shoot somebody in a workman’s hut, or something like that, and 20 or 30 years on they still live in terror of those who came, because they did not get shot dead and others did. So I do support those amendments.

I have put my name to Amendment 167 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Murphy, because that seeks to prevent individuals who have been granted immunity from profiting from their conduct, in relation to the offence for which they might be granted immunity, through empowering the Secretary of State to make regulations to prohibit such activity.

I have put my name also to Amendment 177, in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Dodds, which creates a new offence of glorifying terrorism. I think it could be quite difficult to prosecute and it may need a little fine-tuning. Perhaps the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Eames, has indicated how we should approach this, namely by accepting the purpose of the amendment and agreeing on that.

For the moment, the immunity provisions themselves have been roundly condemned, nationally and internationally; there is no merit in them. I hope that, ultimately, your Lordships will reject not only immunity provisions but the Bill also.

My Lords, in terms of this group of amendments, I think most of us would be of the view that we do not regard the Bill itself as being acceptable, so this is not an attempt to turn something that is unacceptable into being acceptable, but there is, at least, a duty on us to try to make what improvements we can.

We do not agree with concept of immunity, but it is undoubtedly the case that, if there is some provision for immunity, it has to be on the strictest conditions. Therefore, provisions that are contained within these amendments, which rule it out in circumstances where somebody is preventing reconciliation or glorifying terrorism, is a step in the right direction. There is deep hurt caused to victims of terrorism and their families whenever they see those who have been engaged with terrorism glorifying it. I think this is not the intention of the Bill, but there is a danger that, if the Bill were to go through unamended, it could inadvertently facilitate these “terror tours” or “terror talks”, and unfortunately almost act as encouragement, because those who have previously been involved in those activities will feel they have a level of carte blanche to do that. It is important we do not see a rewriting of history.

It is also the case that the glorification of terrorism per se is wrong. It does not matter whether it is a glorification of republican or loyalist terrorism, or terrorism from another part of the world; it is deeply wrong. As others have said, this is not simply about the past; it is about the future also, and it is deeply concerning that at times we are seeing the casualisation of the celebration of terrorism, and the embracing of it, particularly by a generation who never experienced it.

I will give two recent examples which are not hearsay; one of them is on social media. Shortly after the Omagh shooting, police moved in to make arrests and they arrested a young man who was not even born at the time of the Good Friday agreement. Somebody videoed that occasion, when some of the neighbours were coming out and applauding the person as they were being arrested. That is deeply worrying. On another occasion very recently, a friend of mine sent me a screenshot of a product that is available not on some niche website or from a paramilitary-linked group, but from a mainstream, UK-wide online shopping facility. It was a card you could buy for £3.50. It had a picture of someone in paramilitary uniform, wearing a balaclava and a beret, and had the phrase “Tiocfaidh Ár Lá” on it. Underneath it said, “Happy Mother’s Day”, which is quite chilling. And that is the problem. We are, unfortunately, reaching a point where there is a normalisation of the glorification of terrorism, so I believe that these are important steps to take and I hope that the Committee can unite around these amendments.

My Lords, I rise briefly to support the amendments in this group. As someone who, like others in this Chamber, has been the victim of terrorism, it really galls me to see people who for a number of years did not do this—I think the fact that they left a space between the end of the violence and now is quite deliberate—and are now encouraging and romanticising what happened during those dark days of what are euphemistically called the Troubles.

It is really chilling that, today, in Omagh—the place where Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell was gunned down—there are stickers appearing to encourage young people to join up. I find it so chilling, but that is the inevitable consequence of glorifying something that these young people have no knowledge of. They think it is the thing to do to show their loyalty to Ireland. The people who are encouraging this have a terrible responsibility on their heads, but they will continue to do it unless there is an indicator from government that it is wrong.

I hope the Minister will take on board the comments that have been made today. This is about reconciliation. For a period after the Belfast agreement, there was a genuine attempt to engage in reconciliation, but not recently. I have had it said to me—as everyone in this House knows—right to my face, about “Up the Ra” and what have you. Nowadays, there is a casual attitude to those sorts of statements. There is, as my noble friend Lord Weir said, a normalisation of those statements. Therefore, the Government need to send a very clear message that this is wrong and will not be tolerated, and that we are looking out for all the young people in Northern Ireland to keep them safe from this sort of behaviour.

I rise very briefly to say that I do not think anyone could not support the amendments in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Dodds, and indeed all the amendments in this group. We should all abhor the glorification of terrorism, but we have to recognise that it has sometimes come about because of a longer period of sanitising terrorism. As a society in Northern Ireland, we have accepted unrepentant terrorists being able to end up on the Policing Board and other agencies within government. If unrepentant terrorists are given or can achieve such positions, that sends a message out. I understand why this is, given the way our system works in Northern Ireland, but it does not help in telling young people that there is something wrong with terrorism if you can end up in such a position, or in government, without having in any way repented, or said that what happened was wrong, or condemned it.

One other thing which may come up later, either tonight or another time, is that through the definition of a victim in Northern Ireland, we have somehow also sanitised terrorism. The definition of a victim in Northern Ireland can be someone who perpetrated an act and put the bomb wherever it went off. That is just not acceptable. They would not be seen as a victim in the rest of the United Kingdom. So, we have to look ourselves at some ways that we have actually helped to get to a situation where young people now feel that there is absolutely nothing wrong in chanting and singing support for the IRA. Indeed, the First Minister herself said that there was no alternative, and we have then had the threat level going up this week. We have to think that there might be some kind of effect there, with people thinking, “Well, clearly there was no alternative then, so there is obviously still no alternative”. Therefore, we have actually encouraged the sanitisation of terrorism.

I will say one mild thing to my noble friend Lord Brookeborough. Yes, integrated schools are fine, but do not let us go away with this idea that somehow state grammar or secondary schools are not doing their bit. For example, at the state grammar school I went to, Belfast Royal Academy, now nearly 40% of the young people are from a Catholic background. When I was there, there were hardly any young people from Catholic backgrounds but there were a large number of people from a Jewish background. Unfortunately, many of the Jewish people in Northern Ireland left and we have a very small Jewish community now. This idea that a Catholic in a certain area is stopped from going to a state school is just wrong. We have to say that the Catholic Church has a lot to do with this; I do not think there is any point in trying to ignore that. Therefore, integrated schools are fine, but they are much better if they come naturally.

To place this on the record, does the noble Baroness agree that Catholic schools now have a significant proportion of Protestant pupils as well? This movement of children is dominated and dictated by the quality of the schools.

The noble Baroness is absolutely right; that is happening on all sides of the community. However, if you become an integrated school, you get a lot of extra money. A lot of schools now are becoming integrated—of course they have to sign up to the whole ethos of it. I am just putting in a slight point that integrated education is not this panacea that it somehow gets taken for. Particularly for the diaspora from Northern Ireland in England, that is the sort of thing it gets involved in, calling for integrated education.

The amendments in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Dodds, are important and I hope that when we come to the next stage of the Bill, the noble Lord, Lord Caine, will have found a way of getting this into the final Bill.

My Lords, obviously I have a lot of sympathy with the amendments. I have never really agreed with the phrase that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. There is never any sort of justification for killing innocent people, particularly women and children and people going about their business. The only killing I suppose you can justify—and even that is doubtful—is in wars, if you have to do it in self-defence or whatever. There is no justification for the wickedness that accompanies such terrorism—none whatsoever. It offends both my human and my Christian principles; you cannot glorify these things.

However, I accept that there is a generational problem, as the noble Baroness, Lady Foster, said, for example. Just after the Good Friday agreement, there was a different feeling about the place, and as the generations go on and they forget what everybody has talked about today, things change and people’s attitudes change. Perhaps they ought to look at some pictures of the mayhem, murder and destruction caused by terrorism. I have said it before in the Chamber that one of the worst times in my political life, if not the worst, was when I had to go to Omagh two days after the bombing and talk to the relatives of the children who had been killed there. How on earth can we justify that sort of activity? There is no justification.

My own amendments refer specifically to people making money out of glorifying terrorism and that they should not be allowed so to do. The issue that the Minister faces is that, although everybody agrees that this is the wrong thing to do, how we then incorporate that into law and at the same time ensure that we all take into account what the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Eames, said to us today: this is all about reconciliation.

My Lords, I am grateful to noble Lords who have spoken to this group of amendments, and I am in great sympathy with just about every word that has been said. I can remember a number of years ago being in the Northern Ireland Office when a Republican parade was organised in Castlederg to commemorate two IRA bombers who had blown themselves up when taking a bomb into the town in the early 1970s. I remember meeting the Derg Valley victims’ group on that occasion and the total distress and anger that the parade was causing. At the time, we condemned it in pretty unequivocal terms. Noble Lords have referred to more recent examples such as young children chanting slogans such as “Up the Ra”. I recall last year that an Irish language rap group called Kneecap, which noble Lords will understand has a specific meaning in Northern Ireland, performed at a festival where they even unveiled a mural depicting a burning police car. It is horrendous.

The noble Baroness, Lady Hoey, referred to sanitisation and my noble friend Lord Weir to the casualisation of terrorism. Other friends of mine have referred to the Disneyfication of terrorism, and it has become quite a problem. For the sake of absolute clarity, in condemning any glorification of terrorism I apply that equally to any attempts to glorify the activities of loyalist paramilitaries over the years. It remains my view, and the Government’s view, that no taking of human life was ever justified in the Troubles. To paraphrase John Hume, I think it was, no injustice, whether perceived or real, ever justified the taking of a single life in Northern Ireland.

In response to the specific amendments tabled by my noble friend Lord Dodds, noble Lords will know that the Terrorism Act 2006 already makes illegal the encouragement of terrorism, and nothing in this Bill would prevent the prosecution of individuals who were deemed to have committed an offence under that legislation. However, we understand and sympathise with the principles and intent behind the amendments. It is clear that the society will never grow stronger and more united while individuals and organisations are involved in activities that risk progress on reconciliation and building a genuinely shared future for everybody. As ever, I take on the wise words of the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Eames.

Any conduct that has the potential to retraumatise victims is clearly not something the Government will ever support. However, it is important to consider properly any amendment on these matters, including potential legal implications. I affirm that the Government remain open to constructive dialogue with noble Lords and all interested parties about how this issue of glorification might be appropriately addressed.

I turn to the issue of moving abroad to evade prosecution and Amendment 118 in the name of my noble friend Lord Dodds of Duncairn. If prior to entry into force of the Bill a decision has already been taken to prosecute an individual, that individual will not be able to apply for immunity. That would include somebody who has fled the jurisdiction in order to evade justice. Geographical location will have no impact on an individual’s liability for prosecution, or on the requirements which must be met to obtain immunity from prosecution. Individuals who reside abroad but who are not subject to an ongoing prosecution will, to be granted immunity by the commission, have to participate fully in this process on the same terms as everyone else. By applying for immunity, they will have to acknowledge their role in a Troubles-related incident—something they may be doing for the first time. They will then have to provide an account to the commission that the judge-led panel assesses as true to the best of their knowledge and belief. If the commission is not satisfied that the account provided is true to the best of an individual’s knowledge and belief, and should evidence exist, they remain liable for prosecution.

I turn to Amendments 148 and 167 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Murphy. The Government understand and sympathise with their principle, which is to ensure that individuals who are granted immunity cannot subsequently participate in actions that financially reward them for the very same conduct for which they have received immunity.

The hour is late; we have been here a long time today. I will finish on this note. I remain open to constructive dialogue with noble Lords between now and Report about how these issues might be appropriately addressed. On that basis, I invite noble Lords not to press their amendments.

My Lords, I am grateful to everyone who took part in this short but important debate. It is good to have the opportunity to put on record the unanimous view of everyone who has spoken, from all sides, the horror of violence and terrorism, and the unacceptability of the eulogising of the same today. I think we are all united in our desire to try to tackle this and, as in the wise words of the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Eames, to get to the root of the problem and really tackle it, especially for young people, going forward.

I welcome what the Minister said and his offer to continue these discussions to try to find a way in legislation, difficult though it may be, to address this most important issue. On that basis, I am content to withdraw the amendment in my name.

Amendment 116 withdrawn.

Amendments 117 to 128 not moved.

Clause 18 agreed.

Clauses 19 to 20 agreed.

Clause 21: Determining a request for immunity

Amendments 129 to 131 not moved.

Clause 21 agreed.

Clause 22 agreed.

Amendment 132 not moved.

Clause 23: Information for prosecutors

Amendments 133 to 138 not moved.

Clause 23 agreed.

Amendments 139 and 140 not moved.

Clause 24: Production of the historical record

Amendments 141 to 143 not moved.

Clause 24 agreed.

Clauses 25 and 26 agreed.

Schedules 5 and 6 agreed.

Clause 27: The ICRIR’s use of information obtained by it

Amendment 144 not moved.

Clause 27 agreed.

Clause 28 agreed.

Schedule 7 agreed.

Clauses 29 and 30 agreed.

Clause 31: Biometric material

Amendment 145 not moved.

Clause 31 agreed.

Clauses 32 and 33 agreed.

House resumed.

House adjourned at 9.49 pm.