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Terrorism (Compensation)

Volume 164: debated on Friday 12 January 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will list in the Official Report the criteria by which compensation is awarded to the victims of terrorism and to the families of the victims of terrorism in Northern Ireland and the amount of and the circumstances in which payments have been made in each of the past 10 years; and whether he is satisfied with the way in which the present system operates.

[holding answer 11 January 1990]: In Northern Ireland, as in Great Britain, the victim of a criminal injury is entitled to be compensated for pain, suffering and loss of amenities, and for any expenses or pecuniary loss resulting from his injuries. If the victim dies as a result of a criminal injury, compensation is payable to his relatives in respect of expenses incurred or pecuniary loss suffered as a result of the death. Additionally, in the case of incidents occuring on or after 1 July 1988, a bereavement award of £3,500 is payable to the spouse of the deceased victim or to the parents if the victim was unmarried and under 18 years of age. The rationale of the scheme is to ensure that victims and their families do not suffer financial hardship. The legislation makes no distinction between terrorist and other criminal acts except that in terrorist cases there is no upper limit to the amount of compensation for pecuniary loss which can be paid to victims or their dependants.Where a victim survives his injuries the amount of pecuniary loss arising from his partial or total incapacity for work is based on his earnings and future career prospects and account is also taken of any occupational pension or gratuity and social security benefits payable as a result of the injury. The same considerations apply in assessing the amount of pecuniary loss suffered by the dependants of a deceased victim. In the case of pecuniary loss suffered by other relatives, including the deceased victim's parents, account has to be taken of the amount of the victim's financial contributions and the length of time such contributions could reasonably have been expected to have continued.In all cases compensation is paid as a tax-free lump sum. Any applicant who is dissatisfied with the amount determined has a statutory right of appeal to the courts.The compensation provisions broadly follow common law practice and are similar to the compensation provisions in the rest of the United Kingdom. The scheme operates in a fair and reasonable way.The table shows the total amount of compensation paid in each of the past 10 years to the victims of terrorism, their dependants and other relatives.

YearCompensation Paid £ million
1979–801·2
1980–815·1
1981–823·5
1982–833·9
1983–844·6
1984–855·5
1985–867·9
1986–874·2
1987–884·3
1988–895·6
Total45·8