21 November 2017

2 child limit: interaction with criminal law in NI

The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Chloe Smith MP, has made a written statement concerning the application of the 2-child limit policy (child tax credit and universal credit) and the interaction of the exception for non-consensual conception (the ‘rape clause’) with criminal law consideration in Northern Ireland.

In her statement she explains that ‘There has been particular focus on section 5 of the Criminal Law Act (NI) 1967. This provides that where a relevant offence has been committed, it shall be the duty of every other person who knows or believes that the offence has been committed and that has information which is likely to secure, or to be of material assistance in securing the apprehension, prosecution or conviction of any person for that offence, to give the information, otherwise they shall be guilty of an offence, unless they have a reasonable excuse. This provision is not new, nor has it been affected in any way by the implementation of Universal Credit in Northern Ireland. Its implications for those who are victims of crime, including rape, date back to 1967. And as criminal law is a devolved matter, the UK Government has no role in determining the appropriateness of this particular provision, nor in proposing any amendment to it. What is more, we understand that there has not been a single prosecution of a victim of rape under section 5 of the 1967 Act in 50 years. That means that there is no recorded case where it has been considered that those limbs of the prosecutorial test have been met since 1967.’ And she further confirms ‘….The role of a third party professional will simply be to confirm, by ticking boxes on a form, that the claimant has made a declaration to them which is consistent with the criteria for the non-consensual conception exception in relation to their child. No officials of either the UK Government or the Northern Ireland Civil Service will question a claimant about an incident….’

You can read the full statement on the Parliament UK website