Debates between Jack Lopresti and Johnny Mercer during the 2019 Parliament

Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill (Eighth sitting)

(Committee Debate: 8th sitting: House of Commons)
Debate between Jack Lopresti and Johnny Mercer
Tuesday 20th October 2020

(1 year ago)

Public Bill Committees

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Cabinet Office
Johnny Mercer Portrait Johnny Mercer
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20 Oct 2020, midnight

I will come back to the right hon. Gentleman in a minute. He talks about taking rights away from our service personnel. They have a right to be protected on the battlefield in all these areas. One area where they have a right to be protected is the use of lawfare to progress, and change the outcome of, a conflict through other means.

There were lots of wild sentiments thrown around—“lawyers don’t make things up,” and all the rest of it. Again, that does not collide with reality. Phil Shiner has been struck off. The reality—the world as we find it—is what this Bill is designed to deal with.

Jack Lopresti Portrait Jack Lopresti
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20 Oct 2020, 12:01 a.m.

On a point of clarification, would a deployment in Cyprus or Estonia be covered by the Bill?

Johnny Mercer Portrait Johnny Mercer
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20 Oct 2020, 12:02 a.m.

We are talking about overseas operations, wherever they take place outside the UK. UK operations and operations outside the UK are defined in the Bill.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Jack Lopresti and Johnny Mercer
Monday 16th March 2020

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Ministry of Defence
Johnny Mercer Portrait Johnny Mercer
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16 Mar 2020, 4:15 p.m.

The Department is not going to start doing so, because this work started two years ago. This work is to alleviate the stresses, particularly the financial implications, for some of our Commonwealth individuals. I pay tribute to them: they add to our organisation in spades. We need to do more to make sure that they feel we treasure them, as we do. Conversations are ongoing with the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, the hon. Member for Torbay (Kevin Foster) who is responsible for immigration; I met him again only last week. We are absolutely determined to meet this challenge—whether about the minimum income requirement or about visas—and I will have further details in due course.

Jack Lopresti Portrait Jack Lopresti (Filton and Bradley Stoke) (Con)
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16 Mar 2020, 2:58 p.m.

Many families of Northern Ireland veterans are rightly concerned about the treatment of their loved ones, with the ongoing witch hunt against our former service people. Will the Minister confirm to the House that, in the forthcoming legislation, Northern Ireland veterans will take the highest priority because of their age and the imminence of any potential prosecutions?

Johnny Mercer Portrait Johnny Mercer
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16 Mar 2020, 2:59 p.m.

Let me be absolutely clear with my hon. Friend: in line with our commitment, we are bringing in legislation within 100 days to start ending the process of vexatious claims and the cycle of investigations against our troops. As the Secretary of State has laid out, that will be accompanied by a written statement on Wednesday, giving equivalent protections to those who served in Northern Ireland. As my hon. Friend well knows, Northern Ireland issues are for Stormont House, but in this Government we are clear that lawfare is coming to an end, and that extends to those who have served in Northern Ireland.

--- Later in debate ---
Johnny Mercer Portrait Johnny Mercer
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16 Mar 2020, 4:34 p.m.

Last week I met the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, my hon. Friend the Member for Torbay (Kevin Foster), who is the immigration Minister, and I am absolutely determined to make sure that there are specialist teams—for example, there was an NHS cell in the Home Office that dealt with UK Visas and Immigration, and I am looking at measures to try to replicate that. We have made it clear that if those who have served their nation are entitled to remain we will facilitate that process.

Jack Lopresti Portrait Jack Lopresti (Filton and Bradley Stoke) (Con)
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16 Mar 2020, 3:34 p.m.

May I ask my hon. Friend, in relation to social mobility and the British Army, how many serving officers went to a state school, and what we are doing to increase that proportion?

Johnny Mercer Portrait Johnny Mercer
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16 Mar 2020, 3:31 p.m.

I recognise the question, but this simply is not the issue that it perhaps was 20 or 30 years ago. We have far more people from state schools going to Sandhurst and other military establishments. I am cognisant of the fact that we can always do more, but we have some extraordinary social mobility stories that I am more than happy to share with my hon. Friend. We are absolutely committed, regardless of someone’s socioeconomic background, ethnicity or anything like that, and the armed forces are perhaps the greatest exponent of social mobility in this country.