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T3. Mr Lyttle asked the Minister of Finance, given that he will be aware that victims and survivors of historical institutional child abuse have today published their own expert-led proposals for a redress and compensation scheme that would include a common experience payment of £10,000 to all survivors, at an estimated cost of £20 million, with a saving of £10 million on expected litigation, to state whether the sum of £20 million has been included in the draft 2017-18 Budget that the Executive have decided to withhold from the Assembly Committees. (AQT 348/16-21)
I thank Mr Lyttle for his question. Of course, I was there today when he addressed the gathering of victims and survivors of institutional abuse. The report is only out today. I have received a copy. It is much too early for me to respond. The Executive Office is leading on the matter, as you know. Since the presentation, since lunchtime, I have asked my officials to analyse the report and to speak to its authors, Quarter Chartered Accountants, before coming back with their views, which I hope to feed into the Executive Office expeditiously.
I thank the Finance Minister for his response, but should he, as Finance Minister, and the Executive not already have begun scoping the level and type of compensation that they may need to award and engaged with other institutions, such as the Church, which may also have a responsibility? Will he agree to meet with victims and survivors, along with the First and deputy First Ministers, to discuss the proposals in detail as a matter of urgency?
As the Member knows, even as chief steward of the finances, I cannot speak for the First and deputy First Ministers. I have met the campaigners for the victims and survivors of institutional abuse on many occasions. They have my support, and I am happy to meet them again. I have asked officials to start looking at the possible ramifications of Judge Hart's findings, because he has already said that there will be redress.
The Member will know that the Conference of Religious of Ireland, south of the border, contributed €128 million towards the settlement for victims of institutional abuse.
It is my firm view — my firm view — that the religious institutions that had custodianship of children in these homes right across the divide certainly have an obligation to make a contribution towards whatever redress has to be made in the time ahead. I look forward to the recommendations from the First Minister and deputy First Minister. I think there is no doubt that that will be after Justice Hart reports, but, as he knows, I am sympathetic to this case, and I look forward to seeing Justice Hart's findings.