HC Deb 04 May 1972 vol 836 cc569-70
8. Mr. Simon Mahon

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will consider some form of compensation for the relatives of all those killed or injured by gunfire, bombing, fire, or any other reason connected with the campaign of violence in Northern Ireland; if he is satisfied with the arrangements in existence for persons whose property has been destroyed or bombed; and if he will make a statement.

12. Mr. Kilfedder

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he will provide compensation for the dependants of the victims of the Irish Republican Army and to those who have been incapacitated or mutilated by the action of the terrorists.

Mr. David Howell

Provision exists in the Criminal Injuries to Persons (Compensations) Act (Northern Ireland), 1968, for compensation to be paid to any person who has sustained any criminal injury in Northern Ireland and to any dependants of such persons and to any person responsible for the maintenance of the victim.

Compensation in respect of property is payable under the Criminal Injuries Acts (Northern Ireland), 1956 to 1970; the volume of claims has caused delays and my right hon. Friend is considering what can be done to remedy this.

Mr. Mahon

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that reply. Does he agree that it is impossible for this House, any Government or anyone else to compensate for the loss of an innocent eight-year-old girl who was killed in Belfast this week? Will he and his right hon. Friend do all they can to succour and comfort the maimed, the scarred and the bereaved, of either side, in Northern Ireland? Will he tell the advocates of violence who are causing all this distress that they have become an utter and complete irrelevance and contradiction in the present situation? The gun and the bomb are now only crucifying the people of Northern Ireland and it should stop

Mr. Howell

I heartily agree with the sentiments expressed by the hon. Gentleman. Of course no compensation of any kind can take the place of the loss of a life or even the loss of a limb. These are atrocities of the first order and they must be ruthlessly stamped out wherever they occur.

Mr. Kilfedder

I agree with what the hon. Member for Bootle (Mr. Simon Mahon) has so eloquently said. Does my hon. Friend agree that some kind of tribunal ought to be established so that these bereaved relatives can be given compensation speedily and be compensated in such a way that they can overcame the terrible experience of having their relatives murdered by the IRA, indeed some of them murdered in their very presence?

Mr. Howell

Very full compensation arrangements exist under the Acts which I have described. If anything further could be done through the impersonal means of compensating through property and money we would do it. I agree with my hon. Friend and the hon. Member for Bootle (Mr. Simon Mahon) that compensation for the loss of life in the tragic circumstances which we have seen in Northern Ireland cannot fully be met by money or property alone.

Rev. Ian Paisley

I welcome the Under-Secretary's assurance that these matters will be dealt with with impartiality. Will he make representations to his right hon. Friend, who has granted an inquiry into the alleged beating up of a man who is now in Long Kesh internment camp, also to institute an inquiry into the frightful torture which was carried out on the body of Corporal Elliott of the UDR?

Mr. Howell

In answer to the first part of that supplementary question, an investigation has been authorised into the allegation at Long Kesh. On the second part, the alleged torture on the body of Corporal Elliott, charges have been made in Eire against those who are believed to have been involved in the atrocity.

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