Cabinet (Meetings)

Part of First Minister's Question Time — Prime Minister (Meetings) – in the Scottish Parliament at 3:11 pm on 13 March 2003.

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Photo of Rt Hon Jack McConnell Rt Hon Jack McConnell Labour 3:11, 13 March 2003

There are three issues.

First, the Ministry of Defence takes its responsibilities seriously in ensuring that people who will be worried and concerned at home when members of their families are abroad and potentially facing conflict are looked after properly and given every support. All public authorities in Scotland—either those for which we have some responsibility or those in the hands of our local authorities—should assist the MOD in providing that support. That is the sort of co-ordination that is currently going on.

Secondly, the contingency planning that is necessary in these circumstances has been assiduous. This week again there were meetings and exercises to ensure that, across the board in Scotland, those who are responsible for contingency planning are ready and prepared for any eventuality in any way that it is possible to be prepared for those circumstances.

Thirdly and finally, it is important that we do all that we can to reduce community tensions at this time, particularly in our schools, where I am concerned that children of ethnic minorities in Scotland may be bullied if international tensions rise. We must ensure that, in our schools and elsewhere in the weeks ahead, those who live peacefully in Scotland in our communities—either because they were born here and live here and are part of our community or because they have come here in more recent years—do not become targets for racist abuse.