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Historical Institutional Abuse (Northern Ireland) Bill [Lords]

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:49 pm on 5th November 2019.

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Photo of Julian Smith Julian Smith The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland 1:49 pm, 5th November 2019

The hon. Lady makes a very positive and sensible suggestion, and I am happy to do that. We spoke to Lady Hart last night, and Sir Anthony was, I think, perplexed by the slowness of us all to get this done. I will follow up as the hon. Lady suggests.

The draft legislation was subject to a 16-week consultation process in Northern Ireland, and the Bill was drafted by the Northern Ireland civil service at the request of, and based on a consensus reached by, all six of the main Northern Ireland political parties.

The inquiry’s report was published in January 2017, the same month as the collapse of the Executive, so the Executive never considered the report and it was not laid before the Northern Ireland Assembly. That is why, in July, the Government committed to introducing legislation by the end of the year, if the Executive were not restored, and it is why this was one of the first Bills in the Queen’s Speech.

This is the first Bill of its kind in the United Kingdom, with the results of inquiries in England and Wales and in Scotland yet to be completed. I hope this Bill will give some comfort and hope to victims of child abuse across our country.

Following the election announcement a week ago, there has been significant worry and concern from victims about how the Bill might progress. I thank the Prime Minister and Government business managers for facilitating the Bill today, and I thank Opposition business managers and Opposition spokesmen and women for coming to agreement and for working with us to ensure this Bill passes through both Houses before the election.