Hallett Review

Mr Peter Hain (Neath) (Lab): Does the Secretary of State agree that this exemplary report demonstrates to the victims who have suffered, and continue to suffer so much, that the scheme was not unlawful, was not an amnesty, and was not a get-out-of-jail-free card, that it did not offer immunity from prosecution, that no Minister involved misled anyone, and that although the scheme was sensitive, it was not secret?

May I put it directly to the Secretary of State that she has a responsibility to take this process forward, to learn from the report, and to bring all the parties together? That cannot be left simply to the Northern Ireland parties. Both the British Government and the Irish Government need to move forward, together with the parties, and address this past which continues to haunt Northern Ireland and all the victims who have suffered.

Mrs Villiers: I welcome the right hon. Gentleman’s praise for the report. As I have said, I think that there are concerns about the disclosure relating to the scheme; I think that it would have been far better if I, and my predecessors, had been more transparent about the way in which it operated. However, I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that it is important for us to revive the all-party talks, and for the parties to get round the table again to discuss the crucial issues of flags, parading and the past. We need to learn from the report.

I can, of course, give the right hon. Gentleman a complete assurance that the United Kingdom Government remain committed to doing all that they can to support the Northern Ireland parties in their efforts on these matters, and that we are working closely with our colleagues in Dublin, who share our determination to do everything possible to facilitate and support an agreement on the past.