HC Deb 09 March 1989 vol 148 cc1024-5
8. Mr. Livingstone

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what compensation payments have been made to ex-residents of the Kincora boys' home.

The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Mr. Ian Stewart)

A number of claims for compensation have been received by health and social services boards from ex-residents of Kincora boys' home. To date, settlements in respect of three of the claims, amounting to £22,500 plus costs, have been agreed between the parties.

Mr. Livingstone

As we now seem to be getting out-of-court settlements shortly before a court case is due to be heard and the matter is, therefore, not being debated in open court, and as the Terry inquiry report has never been published, will the Minister consider an open inquiry into the events at the Kincora boys' home, especially in the light of the disturbing information that five of the key witnesses interviewed by the RUC have met violent deaths—three were murdered and two allegedly died by their own hand? Even by the standards of violence that we have become used to hearing about in Northern Ireland, that is far too much to be a coincidence.

Mr. Stewart

As others have said to the hon. Gentleman from this Dispatch Box, if he has evidence of wrongdoing I hope that he will put it to the appropriate authorities. The House is not much impressed by those who make allegations but do not substantiate them. Out-of-court settlements are a normal part of compensation claims and it is to the great advantage of all parties concerned if such settlements can be reached.

Mr. Flannery

Is it really in order for the Minister to ask my hon. Friend the Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone) to produce evidence when he has asked for an inquiry—[Interruption.] If you could shut up for a moment and let me say——

Mr. Speaker

Order. I hope that the hon. Gentleman was not referring to me.

Mr. Flannery

Thank you for your help, Mr. Speaker.

I ask the Minister again what my hon. Friend asked him. Will he institute an inquiry into that group of deaths and into the background of what happened at Kincora boys' home? Many of us would like to know the facts but cannot get at them and we have a right as Members of Parliament to know them.

Mr. Stewart

Thorough inquiries were carried out a few years ago by Sir George Terry and Judge Hughes who found no evidence to suggest that the matter should be taken further or reopened.

Mr. McNamara

The Minister cannot get away with that reply to the question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone)—[Interruption.] Well, he should not get away with it. It is one thing for the Minister to say offhandedly that inquiries have been held, but it is another for him to admit that £22,000 has been paid in out-of-court compensations. If the Terry and Hughes inquiries have found nothing to be worried about, why have those large sums been paid in compensation? Who is being asked to keep quiet by not going to court?

Mr. Stewart

The hon. Gentleman has got the whole thing wrong. Everybody knows that three staff at the Kincora boys' home were convicted of serious sexual offences in 1981 and were given sentences of several years. Nobody has denied that there was wrongdoing at that time. However, the other allegations relating to claimants or former residents of the Kincora boys' home are not substantiated, and, unless there is some basis on which they can be followed through, I accept the evidence of the investigations that were carried out by an eminent chief constable and an eminent judge a few years ago to establish the position.

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