Belfast Telegraph

Government won't introduce legislation to compensate historical abuse victims until after summer break

The Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) Inquiry concluded there should be compensation ranging from £7,500 to £100,000.
The Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) Inquiry concluded there should be compensation ranging from £7,500 to £100,000.

Legislation to compensate victims of historical institutional abuse will not be introduced at Westminster until after the summer break, the government has confirmed.

It comes after DUP MP Ian Paisley urged the government to introduce the revised Bill on Wednesday and then push it through the Commons and Lords.

Northern Ireland minister John Penrose told MPs that the draft Historical Abuse Bill is still being worked on.

The latest development follows Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service David Sterling writing to Secretary of State Karen Bradley and Northern Ireland's political parties last Thursday to confirm that all necessary amendments to the legislation have now been made.

There is speculation that Mrs Bradley will be replaced as Northern Ireland Secretary in new Prime Minister Boris Johnson's cabinet.

"This is an important issue that has not been properly debated in a legislature. It will need primary legislation in order to be taken through," Mr Penrose said.

"It is something which is new and needs to be dealt with carefully."

Last week a UK government spokesperson told the Belfast Telegraph that the legislation would be introduced "before the end of the year at the latest".

Speaking in the House of Commons on Thursday Mr Paisley urged the government to act now.

"I do not doubt the sincerity of this minister of state, and the Secretary of State or indeed the team they have in the Northern Ireland Office, but there can be no further delay," the North Antrim MP said.

Ian Paisley
Ian Paisley

"There is nothing to prevent this legislation being introduced this evening (Wednesday), being voted on tomorrow (Thursday) and this matter resolved before we go into recess.

"If the will is there this can be done."

The legislation was initially delayed by the collapse of the Stormont Assembly in January 2017, a public consultation was then held on the findings of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry.

Mrs Bradley previously came under pressure from victims to resign after asking Northern Ireland's political parties for feedback on the consultation, again delaying the compensation.

In January 2017 an inquiry led by Sir Anthony Hart found widespread and systemic abuse in children's homes across Northern Ireland and made a number of recommendations, including compensation for victims.

The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry studied allegations of abuse in 22 homes and other residential institutions between 1922 and 1995.

Sir Anthony died earlier this month aged 73, after suffering a heart attack.

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