HC Deb 18 July 2001 vol 372 cc274-5
2. Brian White (Milton Keynes, North-East)

What support his Department gives to victims of violence. [2873]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Desmond Browne)

Like the rest of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland has a criminal injuries compensation scheme, which, in the last financial year, we funded to the tune of £47 million.

In addition, the Government provided overdue acknowledgement of the human cost of the troubles when my right hon. Friend the Member for East Kilbride (Mr. Ingram) instituted for the first time a programme of support for victims of the troubles.

More than £18.25 million has been allocated to support victims of the troubles in Northern Ireland. The support includes the establishment of a family trauma centre, the Northern Ireland memorial fund and funding for groups that provide support to victims. Support for victims who live in Great Britain was announced earlier this month, and further initiatives will be announced in the coming months.

Brian White

In paying tribute to groups that have helped victims of the troubles, may I draw my hon. Friend's attention to several individuals who have not been able to access support from them? What are the Government doing to help individuals?

Mr. Browne

My hon. Friend makes an especially valid point. Isolation and lack of awareness of what is available are especially acute among the victims of the troubles. Consequently, the service that the family trauma centre provides is designed for individuals; those individuals whose education was disrupted by the troubles have received grants and bursaries of approximately £300,000, and the Northern Ireland memorial fund has devised schemes for individuals.

Lady Hermon (North Down)

I understand that an eminent Queen's Counsel has backed the civil action being taken by the victims of the Omagh bombing. In those circumstances, are the Government prepared to give public support to, and encourage businesses to provide financial backing for, the legal fund for the Omagh victims?

Mr. Browne

The hon. Lady knows that a specific initiative was taken in conjunction with the local health organisation to respond to the trauma of the Omagh victims. Research has revealed the need for significant support, which has been put in place.

The Government cannot adopt a position on civil litigation, but we understand entirely the feelings that lie behind such an action.

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