Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill

Published date : 18 July, 2023
I do not intend to spend long on my feet, as I have made all the points that I would seek to make on this Bill at previous stages. It is also important that we get to hear as many voices as possible from Northern Ireland.

I will make just two points: first, that reconciliation is something that is achieved, not imposed; and, secondly, to hold fast the principle that, where there is a sufficiency of evidence and an independent prosecutor decides that it is in the public interest, a prosecution should be able to go ahead. That is why the SNP continues to oppose the Bill, notwithstanding the amendments that are on the table today. I echo the point made by the right hon. Member for Lagan Valley (Sir Jeffrey M. Donaldson) that, without that ability to pursue justice, reconciliation becomes less likely.

I appreciate very much the steps that the ministerial team—this iteration of it—have made in seeking to address the concerns that have been raised, but that fundamental point of principle about denying prosecutions, and therefore in our view justice, remains. That is why my party will support Lords amendment 44 this afternoon.

We also support Lords amendment 20. We think that Operation Kenova sets the gold standard for the investigative processes that should be carried out, and particularly the commitment by the Government to pursue all evidential opportunities. The Secretary of State has been keen to stress that he is offering great assurances on ECHR compliance. I have to say that we remain without the assurances that we need, and if Lords amendment 20 were to be put to the vote tonight, the SNP would certainly support it.

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