Law to help historical abuse victims Northern Ireland moves step closer
Legislation to help victims and survivors of historical institutional abuse in Northern Ireland will come a step closer today when the House of Lords debates proposals for a redress system.
The Historical Institutional Abuse (Northern Ireland) Bill is to receive its second reading in the House of Lords this afternoon.
When passed by both Houses of Parliament, the Bill will give victims and survivors of historical institutional abuse in Northern Ireland access to redress.
In its report in January 2017, the Historical Institutional Inquiry, chaired by the late Sir Anthony Hart, recommended that all survivors of institutional abuse receive tax-free, lump sum payments ranging from £7,500 to £100,000.
However, the collapse of Stormont meant no ministers were in post to set up the scheme.
A new statutory Commissioner for Survivors of Institutional Abuse is to be created, to advocate for those who were subject to abuse, ensuring the co-ordination and availability of services to victims and survivors.
The Bill also contains provisions for the Redress Board to pay an initial "acknowledgement payment" of £10,000 in advance of the full consideration of a claim.
Responding to concerns raised by victims' groups, the Secretary of State has tasked officials to look at options for implementing the new legislation as soon as it becomes law.
He is also working to ensure the Bill passes through Westminster as quickly as possible.
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Julian Smith said: "I am aware that time is of the essence and, in order to speed up delivery of redress mechanisms, I have tasked officials from the Northern Ireland Office to work at pace with The Executive Office and begin preparations for the scheme, once it becomes law.
"We will also provide whatever support is needed to assist the Northern Ireland Civil Service to ensure victims are paid as rapidly as possible.
"I want to see this become law as quickly as possible and in the absence of a functioning Stormont Executive, I will be working with MPs across all parties to effect this as quickly as possible from Westminster."