Patrick Finucane: Supreme Court Judgment

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:32 pm on 30th November 2020.

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Photo of Brandon Lewis Brandon Lewis The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland 5:32 pm, 30th November 2020

The hon. Gentleman makes a hugely important point, and I fully accept and agree with what he said in the first part of his question. I firmly believe that we have a duty to find a way forward on legacy that allows families to have an understanding, and to get that information and reconciliation for Northern Ireland, building on the peace and prosperity we have seen since the Belfast/Good Friday agreement. That is a duty we should all take seriously, and we should do everything we can, working across civic society, to find a way forward that we can all come together and deliver on.

The hon. Gentleman also makes an important point about victims’ payments, which I will answer briefly, Mr Deputy Speaker, if you will allow me. I do think that victims have waited for far too long. I was hugely disappointed with how long it took to get even the designation of the Department arranged by the Northern Ireland Executive; I am as frustrated as others that that is not there. To be fair, I know that the Department of Justice and the Minister are working hard, along with the First Minister, to get this done as quickly as possible, and both are equally passionate about delivering for the victims.

Bearing in mind that the Northern Ireland Executive have had somewhere in the region of £20 billion this year, even as part of the £15 billion block grant, it is important that they work out what amount of that money they are putting into something that they—including the Deputy First Minister—say is a priority, to make sure that money gets to the victims who need it. I encourage the Department of Finance to pull together an independent fiscal council, as agreed under “New Decade, New Approach”, to get proper transparency about these finances, which will help budget in a way that will mean it can properly fund the Department of Justice, through the Executive, to deliver on this for victims.