HC Deb 07 February 1985 vol 72 cc1085-6
2. Mr. William Ross

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he is satisfied with the procedures followed by his Department in the processing of claims for damage due to terrorist activity.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Nicholas Scott)

Yes, Sir. The present procedures enable claims to be dealt with quickly and efficiently within the framework provided by the criminal damage legislation.

Mr. Ross

But surely the Minister is aware of many cases where further information is requested from the applicant at a fairly late stage in the proceedings. Would it not be helpful to all concerned if the Government were to prepare and issue to every applicant a detailed list of the information that would be needed before the application for compensation was completed? Surely that would benefit everybody in Northern Ireland?

Mr. Scott

Almost invariably in these cases, those with any substantial claims have legal advisers to help them. Guidance is issued by the Northern Ireland Office for the assistance of claimants. Many of the delays occurring at a late stage are those related to consequential loss which requires detailed accounting information. This can take some time both to produce and then to assess.

Rev. Ian Paisley

Will the Secretary of State inform the House of the time that certain cases have been outstanding? Is it not a fact that many claimants have been waiting an extremely long time for final payment?

Mr. Scott

That is right in terms of final payment, but it is the practice of the branch concerned in the Northern Ireland Office always to issue interim payments so as to reduce the hardship suffered by individual claimants.

Mr. McCusker

I accept that interim payments are useful, but how can the Minister describe the system as speedy and efficient when it takes up to and over two years for the final settlement to be made? Surely the Minister should re-examine the entire procedure.

Mr. Scott

Final settlement has still not been completed in the Droppin' Well Inn case, but well over £500,000 has been paid out in criminal damage and criminal injury claims in that case. We want to tidy up the final details as quickly as possible.

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