In the Scottish Parliament today, the Scottish Government Education Minister, John Swinney reported he is “considering” extending the remit of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry. On the one hand, he acknowledged, after recently consulting survivor’s groups, their objections to the narrowness of the remit of the Inquiry in Scotland, as relating to children in care. On the other hand, he explained he has sought to balance that against delay if the remit is widened, and the interests of survivors affected by such delay. Even with its current remit the inquiry is currently scheduled to last another three years. The Inquiry has commissioned research and has commenced the process of gathering information and documents. The Inquiry has already gathered numerous accounts of abuse through private sessions taking place throughout the UK.
Mr Swinney has expressed the view today that delay is inevitable if the remit is extended but that he is considering this extension. He confirmed to the Parliament that he had discussed the matter with the inquiry chairwoman Lady Smith, amid criticism from abuse survivor groups that the remit of the investigation is “fixed”. He also addressed the idea of Scottish Government interference in the independent inquiry, confirming he had “no desire” for the government to have any inappropriate involvement.
In another interesting comment today to the Scottish Parliament he also confirmed that the question of redress for victims was actively being explored.
It is clear that this subject will remain on the parliamentary radar in Scotland with a parliamentary question also having been set, asking the Scottish Government to confirm in what month it will introduce the Limitation (Childhood Abuse) Bill – an answer to this by the Scottish Government is due on 10 November.
Frank Hughes, partner