I commend the Government for doing all they can to deal with this sensitive issue—as we have seen today. Having served in
Northern Ireland for three tours, I quite understand where the sensitivity comes from. If this commission is going to find the truth, the likelihood is, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Sir Iain Duncan Smith) has said, that on the soldiers’ side the evidence is there but for terrorists on both sides of the divide, it is not. How are the victims going to get the peace that we all want them to have when the truth is unlikely ever to be found?
My hon. Friend makes a good and important point. He is quite right. One of the challenges is the point about balance that I made a few moments ago. As we go forward it is important, first, that records will be made available in a way that they have not been made before, going beyond what we have done before with a legal duty for the first time on Government Departments, agencies and bodies, which will mean that a whole range of information will be available for the commission to look at. Of course, if people come forward with information, particularly in a demand-led process, as I will outline in a few moments, it will provide an opportunity for people to seek the investigation of crimes by an investigatory body with the right kinds of powers. Those crimes were committed in the vast majority, as he has rightly outlined, by terrorists who went out to do harm in Northern Ireland.
We as a Government accept that, as part of this process, information will be released into the public domain that may well be uncomfortable for everyone. It is important that we as a Government acknowledge our shortcomings, as we have done previously in relation to that immensely challenging period. It is also important, as hon. Friends have said this afternoon, that others do the same.