HC Deb 01 February 1982 vol 17 cc68-9W
Rev. Ian Paisley

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will now set up a public sworn judicial inquiry into the Kincora House scandal.

Mr. Prior

No. In my announcement of 15 January 1982, copies of which were placed in the Library, I made clear that the Royal Ulster Constabulary has thoroughly investigated all aspects of the criminal offences committed against children and young persons in care at Kincora and other homes. Moreover, certain other matters which were the subject of complaint are still being investigated by the RUC with the same thoroughness and vigour.

What is now needed is an equally thorough and searching investigation of the management system, not only to identify the reasons for the failure to detect malpractice over so many years, but to ensure that the interests of children in care are properly safeguarded in future. A judicial inquiry would not be appropriate for this purpose. I am satisfied that the independent committee which I have appointed, and which has already met under the chairmanship of a former Northern Ireland Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration and Commissioner for Complaints, has sufficiently wide terms of reference, the necessary breadth of experience and adequate powers to require evidence to be produced, to summon witnesses and, if necessary, take evidence on oath.

It would not, in my view, be right for the committee to conduct its proceedings in public but I assure the House that its report will be published in due course. If any evidence emerges during the course of the inquiry which suggests that further criminal offences may have been committed, such as conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, I am assured that this will be referred to the Chief Constable of the RUC for further investigation.