HC Deb 18 July 1994 vol 247 cc15-6
32. Mr. Cyril D. Townsend

To ask the Attorney-General when he expects to bring prosecutions under the War Crimes Act 1991.

The Attorney-General

I refer my hon. Friend to my reply a few moments ago to the hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick).

Mr. Townsend

Can my right hon. and learned Friend confirm that more than £8 million has been set aside for war crime prosecutions this year, but none for next year? How is evidence to be obtained from foreign countries concerning alleged events that took place more than 50 years ago? Will he take a close look at what happened in Australia, Canada and Israel, where they went down a similar path and ran into serious trouble?

The Attorney-General

My hon. Friend is right—£8 million had been provisionally set aside in the event that prosecutions took place this year. I well understand my hon. Friend's views on the matter. It is difficult to investigate events that took place 50 years ago. That is why it has to be done carefully and scrupulously, as I assure my hon. Friend is being done.

Mr. Tony Banks

Will the Minister accept that time can in no way discharge the heinousness of the crimes that were perpetrated by some of the Nazis against a large of number of people, including Jews? Under the circumstances, £8 million is money well worth spending.

The Attorney-General

I entirely accept the first part of what the hon. Gentleman says. Of course, the investigation has to be able clearly to establish what did or did not happen 50 years ago so that the question whether there is a realistic prospect of conviction of any person can be properly evaluated.