HC Deb 27 May 1976 vol 912 cc621-2
13. Mr. Goodhart

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he will make a statement about the review of the working of the Criminal Injuries (Compensation) Act 1968.

Mr. Concannon

I have nothing further to add to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Feltham and Heston (Mr. Kerr) on 28th April.

Mr. Goodhart

Is the Minister aware of very widespread anger in this country at the award of up to £20,000 to a convicted IRA man, when families of soldiers killed in Northern Ireland have been getting far less? For 12 months hon. Members on both sides of the House have agreed that this is an urgent matter, so why has it all taken so long?

Mr. Concannon

It would be quite improper for me to comment on that case. I do not think that it furthers the hon. Gentleman's case to make such accusa- tions. Members of the security forces in Northern Ireland, and their dependants, have the benefit of Service pensions which specifically cover the risk of injury and death. Under the Act, these have to be taken fully into consideration. When a Service man dies in Northern Ireland as a result of criminal injury, the claim by his widow or dependants is dealt with on the same basis as are claims by widows and dependants of civilians. Any compensation award is for financial loss. I have figures that disprove some of the accusations made about this matter.

Mr. Townsend

Will the Minister consider excluding from compensation those who have been involved in acts of terrorism?

Mr. Concannon

That is a matter for the statute law and the courts in Northern Ireland. A review is taking place and my right hon. Friend has asked that the recommendations should be in his hands by the end of this month.

Mr. McCusker

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that compensation has been awarded to four children under the age of 2 years for nervous shock? How does one assess nervous shock in a child under the age of 2?

Mr. Concannon

When one has been in Northern Ireland, one gets used to nervous shock. It is not for me to contemplate how the law arrives at decisions in these cases, but compensation has been given to young children in Northern Ireland on four occasions.