Historical abuse survivors are worried that the Prime Minister’s decision to suspend parliament will further delay any Redress Bill.
Jon McCourt Chairman of Survivors (North West) yesterday wrote a letter to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
It follows a “very positive” meeting with victims and survivors on Friday during which assurances were given that a Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry Redress Bill would be on the floor at Westminster “in weeks rather than months”.
Boris Johnson’s plans to suspend parliament for five weeks have now cast this pledge into doubt.
Yesterday morning the Queen approved an order to prorogue parliament following a request from the Prime Minister.
Mr Johnson will temporarily close down the Commons from the second week of September until October 14 when there will be a Queen's Speech to open a new session of Parliament.
This prompted Mr McCourt to write to Julian Smith urging him to stick to his word and use all his “powers of persuasion” to see the Bill carried.
His letter reads: “Sir, thank you for meeting with us last Friday. I found the conversation interesting and hopeful. I was relieved that you were personally intent on taking forward the issue of Redress for Victims and Survivors of Historical Institutional Abuse.
“As you recognised, this issue has festered too long without being dealt with. I have no doubt that your commitment to seeing it resolved is genuine.
“This morning’s announcement by the Prime Minister, to seek the prorogation of Parliament just after its return in September, has caused anxiety and fear among members of Survivors (North West) that the issue of redress for Victims and Survivors of Historical Institutional Abuse will once again be a casualty of a government decision.
“At the meeting you stated that you wanted to see the issue “discharged as quickly as possible”. Irrespective of the outcome of the Prime Minister’s approach on the prorogation of Parliament, it is our intention to hold you to your commitment to us.”
It added: “There will be six working days before the suggested prorogation and on behalf of Victims and Survivors of Historical Institutional Abuse would urge, at the first opportunity, by whatever means possible, to present the HIA Redress legislation before Parliament. This will then start the much awaited process that will see this “discharged as quickly as possible”.
“We are aware that, even if you manage to get legislation on the floor of “the House”, that there is a possibility that the bill would be killed off with the collapse of Parliament. In the interest of justice, we ask that you use all of your powers of persuasion, as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, to assure that this Bill is carried over into the new term of a future administration.
“Victims and Survivors of Historical Institutional Abuse have had their hopes raised and dashed too many times since this journey began.
We hope that when we meet again in September, that there will have been movement towards resolving this long outstanding issue.
“I look forward to your response and continued commitment.”
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