Video: December General Election could torpedo Historical Institutional Abuse Bill, warns DUP MP Gregory Campbell

Gregory CampbellGregory Campbell
Gregory Campbell
DUP MP Gregory Campbell has warned that if a General Election is approved for December today it could torpedo the procedure of the Historical Institutional Abuse (Northern Ireland) Bill through Parliament.

He was speaking late on Monday in the British House of Commons after the bill, which makes provision for compensation for the victims of abuse in institutions in the North between 1922 and 1995 received a second reading in the House of Lords.

The East Derry MP put it to the Secretary of State, Julian Smith, that if an election is approved today then it would be unlikely there would be enough time to get the bill through Parliament.

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Mr. Smith told MPs he had been encouraged by the strong support Peers had earlier expressed for the bill in the House of Lords.

“The Labour party, the DUP and the hon. Member for North Down (Lady Hermon) have been hugely supportive of the Bill. We need to accelerate it and drive it forward, and I will continue to make strong representations, to my successor [Mark Spencer, the Government Chief Whip] and to the Leader of the House [Jacob Rees-Mogg],” said the Secretary of State, referring to Mr. Spencer’s and Mr. Rees-Mogg’s roles in managing the business of the House of Commons.

If an election is approved today, however, Westminster will pass into ‘purdah’ for six weeks from the publication of a notice for the poll.

This would make it more difficult to secure the passage of the bill through the current Parliament before its dissolution upon which the bill would fall, as Mr. Campbell alluded to.

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“Will the Secretary of State concede, and agree with us, that if the Government were to win the day tomorrow on an early General Election, what he has said just now will not come to pass?” asked the DUP MP.

Mr. Smith replied: “Well, it is true that if there is a General Election there is usually a wash-up period, but in all scenarios I will be making the case that we need to get the HIA Bill through.

“I am concerned that there are many very vulnerable victims who have been waiting a long time - many of them are over 70 and in ill health - so we need to get on with this. I will be working hard, and if other Members are able to assist me in making representations, I will appreciate it.”