HC Deb 26 March 1985 vol 76 cc202-3
9. Mr. Ashley

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he is taking about section 10 of the Crown Proceedings Act.

Mr. Stanley

The review of section 10 is continuing, but I am as yet unable to say when it will be completed.

Mr. Ashley

Is the Minister aware that his answer is word for word almost the answer that he gave to me a year ago, and that his answer then referred to an answer that he gave the previous year? Is he further aware that section 10 of the Crown Proceedings Act places a veto on any legal action for negligence by any service man who happens to be severely disabled, or by his relatives if he is killed, and that it is wrong that the Act should prevent service men or their relatives from taking such action? The matter is so simple that it requires consideration, not for two years, but for just one hour.

Mr. Stanley

The right hon. Gentleman says that it is a simple matter, but the fact is that section 10 has been found to be satisfactory by successive Governments ever since the Government of Mr. Attlee put it on the statute book. Therefore, there must be very good reasons why this piece of legislation is thought to be in the interests of service men as a whole. I assure the right hon. Gentleman that the fact that the review has taken some time does not reflect any lack of interest in the matter on the part of the Government, but reflects the real complexity of the issues that we are considering.

Mr. Adley

Nevertheless, is the right hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ashley) not right to use Parliament as the place to try to bring these matters to a satisfactory conclusion from his point of view? Will my hon. Friend take this opportunity to express his surprise, if he was aware of this, that while the right hon. Gentleman rightly tries to change the law in Britain, the right hon. Member for Llanelli (Mr. Davies), who is a member of the shadow Cabinet and the official Opposition spokesman on defence, has apparently seen fit to sign an early-day motion which clearly calls for the breaking of the law? Is that not shocking?

Mr. Stanley

I note what my hon. Friend says, but, happily, I do not believe that there is any question of negligence or damages under section 10 of the Crown Proceedings Act.