Legislation to establish a compensation scheme for thousands of survivors of historical child abuse in care homes in Northern Ireland has been passed by MPs in Westminster.

The new law was fast-tracked before the British Parliament is dissolved later tonight.

It's estimated that more than 5,000 people could be eligible for payments, with a total bill of around 130 million pounds sterling.

Individual payments will range from £10,000 to £100,000 depending on the extent of the abuse suffered.

The majority of surviving victims live in Northern Ireland, but there are also some in the Republic and further afield, including England and Australia.

An inquiry recommended a compensation scheme in January 2017, but no payments have been made because of the absence of a devolved government at Stormont.

The Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) inquiry investigated allegations of child abuse in 22 homes run by the church, state and charities in Northern Ireland between 1922 and 1995.

It said there had been shocking instances of abuse.

The inquiry's recommendations included a tax-free lump compensation payment, a public apology to survivors and a memorial at Stormont.

Some of those who should have received compensation following the publication of the HIA inquiry's recommendations nearly three years ago have died.

Families of deceased victims will be able to claim their compensation.

Retired judge Sir Anthony Harte, who chaired the inquiry, expressed "profound disappointment" at the lack of progress implementing his recommendations before his death in July.

On Monday, judges in Belfast ruled that what children suffered in the homes investigated by the inquiry amounted to torture.

They said senior civil servants should have compensated the victims in the absence of a functioning Assembly.

Survivors have campaigned for the British government to intervene and authorise payments.

This afternoon, Northern Ireland Secretary of State Julian Smith MP introduced the Historical Institutional Abuse (Northern Ireland) Bill in the House of Commons.

Some of the victims and their supporters watched from the public gallery as the minister said he hoped the Bill, the first of its kind in the UK, would give them hope.

The legislation allows for the creation of a Redress Board to administer the publicly funded compensation scheme.

Those deemed to be in greatest need, the elderly and those in ill health, will be given priority.

Introducing the Bill, Julian Smith read from a letter sent to him by a Catholic priest in Northern Ireland expressing his horror at what the survivors had to endure.