8 February 2021
Sir Iain Duncan Smith speaks in Armed Forces Bill debate

During the debate on the Armed Forces Bill, Sir Iain Duncan Smith asks about protection against vexatious allegations for veterans who served in Northern Ireland.

Sir Iain Duncan Smith (Chingford and Woodford Green) (Con)

I apologise for intervening so early, but I wanted to do so while the Minister was mentioning justice. In this Bill, he deals with justice to our armed services and forces, but we are still waiting for protection against vexatious allegations in cases from Northern Ireland where people have already been tried and found innocent. I served there back at that same time, and many people I know live in fear that they are going to be called for something that they thought was over, done and gone. When is that legislation going to come in front of the House?

Johnny Mercer (Minister for Defence People and Veterans)

I thank my right hon. Friend for his question. I think it is appropriate that I deal with this matter now, although it may come up a number of times during the debate. Let me be absolutely clear: this Prime Minister, for the first time in this country’s history, has committed to ending the vexatious nature of repeat investigations of our veterans who served in Northern Ireland; this Northern Ireland Secretary has given the same commitments; and we are closer now than we have ever been to delivering on that promise. Those veterans are not left behind. I pay tribute to them for their service. Legislation will be coming in due course from the Northern Ireland Office. The Government are working and are committed to this issue like never before. I just urge a little more patience. Colleagues will know my commitment to the issue, and I am determined to see it through.