Sir Mike Penning calls for a debate on the persecution of veterans who served in Northern Ireland through the ’70s and ’80s and in Operation Banner.
May I also congratulate you, Mr Deputy Speaker, on your richly deserved great honour? Tomorrow is breast cancer care day, and we will all be wearing something pink. Some of us look nicer in pink than others, but it is an important day as we highlight breast cancer, which is still a killer for so many of our constituents.
May I declare an interest and request a debate on the persecution of veterans who served in Northern Ireland, as I did through the ’70s and ’80s and in Operation Banner? It is fundamentally wrong that our ex-servicemen are being treated like terrorists. It is scaring them to death to be dragged into a judicial process that was resolved years and years ago. They have been forgotten, I am afraid, by Governments of parties on both sides of the House. They did not ask to go to Northern Ireland; they were sent. There were sent to do a job to keep the peace, and it is fundamentally wrong that they are being prosecuted today.
I am extremely sympathetic to my right hon. Friend’s comments. Without any doubt, we owe a vast debt of gratitude to the heroism and bravery of all our soldiers and police officers who upheld the rule of law and were themselves accountable to it. He will appreciate that the current system in Northern Ireland is not working well for soldiers, police officers or victims. I encourage him to raise his question directly with Ministers during Defence questions on Monday 22 October or Northern Ireland questions on Wednesday 31 October.