Dugald Johnstone

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 28th July 1959.

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Photo of Mrs Jean Mann Mrs Jean Mann , Coatbridge and Airdrie 12:00 am, 28th July 1959

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will publish the reports on his files concerning the removal of Dugald Johnstone after nine years from his foster parents in Mull, and his further four removals before his remains were discovered near Dunoon.

Photo of Hon. John Maclay Hon. John Maclay , Renfrewshire West

No, Sir. It would not be in accordance with either precedents or practice to publish confidential documents of this kind.

Photo of Mrs Jean Mann Mrs Jean Mann , Coatbridge and Airdrie

Does the Secretary of State know that I saw the report in full last week for the first time, and that it is a shocking report? There ought to have been an inquiry. The case is much more tragic than that of the Thurso boy. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a doctor saw this boy and certified that he was in a state of terror owing to the harsh treatment of the new foster parents to whom he had been removed? It is no use dwelling on recriminations, but will the Secretary of State bear in mind that, if Section 7 of the Children Act, 1958, had been extended to local authorities, this tragedy might never have occurred, because it would have given foster parents the right to appeal? Will he consider revising the law?

Photo of Hon. John Maclay Hon. John Maclay , Renfrewshire West

As the hon. Lady knows, I understand very well her consternation about this case, but I could not fully accept the first part of her supplementary question. As to the second part of it, it is clear that to do what she suggests would raise very difficult questions of principle.

Photo of Mr George Lawson Mr George Lawson , Motherwell

If what my hon. Friend has said is true—and I have no reason to doubt it—is it not a very grave reflection upon the arrangements in the right hon. Gentleman's Department that a report such as this cannot be made public?

Photo of Hon. John Maclay Hon. John Maclay , Renfrewshire West

It is not a question of reports. It is a question of confidential letters received in connection with this case. Of course, as the hon. Member knows, this is largely a matter for the local authorities concerned.

Photo of Mrs Jean Mann Mrs Jean Mann , Coatbridge and Airdrie

On a point of order. I said that I would keep the report confidential until I have read it. I would be failing in my duty if I did not make the report public, and I give notice that I shall do so.