Sir Mike Penning calls on Parliament to mark the anniversary of the death of Captain Robert Nairac who died 42 years ago and whose body has never been found.
On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Forty-two years ago, in the early hours of the morning, a brave British soldier from 3 Company 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards was abducted or captured by the IRA. Captain Robert Nairac was my captain. He was a gentleman who, in the boxing ring, broke my nose—the first person to have done so. We still do not know what happened to him. The country owes a debt to our soldiers in Northern Ireland, and particularly to those who have given the utmost for their country. Mr Speaker, is there any way for me to mark 42 years since Captain Robert Nairac gave his life for this country and for the peace of Northern Ireland?
I am very sensitive to the point that the right hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead (Sir Mike Penning) has raised, but rather than giving an inevitably provisional and possibly unsatisfactory reply off the top of my head, I say to him that I am very open to the idea of recognition in the way that he suggests. It seems to me that that warrants further discussion, and if he wants to come to see me, either alone or accompanied by colleagues—particularly if it is a cross-party delegation—I would be very open to seeing him and to exploring whether, and if so how, recognition might be provided. Meanwhile, I will of course take other points of order.
Further to the point of order made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead (Sir Mike Penning), Mr Speaker. Captain Nairac was posthumously awarded the George Cross, our highest civilian gallantry award. May I remind the House that he was tortured heinously for several hours, beaten up and hit with a wooden post. Eventually, an IRA terrorist killer came to him and said, “You’ve had it.” Apparently, Robert Nairac then said very little except to ask for God’s grace. He died in an incredibly gallant way, and I agree with you, Mr Speaker, that we should recognise the gallantry of this man.
I thank the hon. Gentleman for what he has said. I was particularly interested to hear him develop his point fully, even though it was not entirely a point of order, out of respect for the track record of not only his political service but his military service, which is well known across the House and which itself has been marked by extraordinary professionalism, resilience and bravery.