§ Rev. Ian Paisley
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) what are the reasons for the change in the policy of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Northern Ireland, that compensation settlements for RUC widows should now go to the Appeal Court;
(2) whether the Ministry of Home Affairs, Northern Ireland, is going to go ahead with the notice of appeal lodged against the compensation settlements recently for three RUC widows and their families.
§ Mr. Merlyn Rees
There has been no change of policy regarding appeal procedure. Under the Criminal Injuries to 323W Persons (Compensation) Act (Northern Ireland) 1968, it has always been open to the Northern Ireland Office, as it was to the former Ministry of Home Affairs and to the claimant for compensation, to appeal to the High Court against a county court's determination of an award.
In three recent cases involving RUC widows it first seemed that the awards by the county court were excessive in comparison with previous awards in similar cases. In the light of the provisions of the Act notices of appeal were therefore to lo[...]ed to allow a further examination to be made. In the light of this examination it has been decided not to pursue these appeals and the claimants' representatives have been informed. It is important to ensure as far as possible that compensation under the Act is awarded fairly and on the same basis to all claimants.