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Dungavel House

First Minister's Question Time – in the Scottish Parliament at 12:00 pm on 16th September 2004.

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Photo of Christine Grahame Christine Grahame Scottish National Party 12:00 pm, 16th September 2004

To ask the First Minister whether the Scottish Executive has had any discussions with the commissioner for children and young people in Scotland about the health and welfare of children at Dungavel House immigration removal centre. (S2F-1033)

Photo of Rt Hon Jack McConnell Rt Hon Jack McConnell Labour

Yes, I have discussed the matter with the commissioner personally.

Photo of Christine Grahame Christine Grahame Scottish National Party

Given the fact that it is plain that the children's commissioner's role in Scotland is severely constricted, despite her comment that children are not a reserved matter, I refer the minister to section 52(2) of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 with which he is, no doubt, familiar and which self-evidently is not reserved. Does he agree that a referral under that section, regarding individual children in Dungavel, could competently be made to a children's panel by which a determination might be made to remove children from those premises?

Photo of Rt Hon Jack McConnell Rt Hon Jack McConnell Labour

I do not have all the facts about individual cases before me. However, it is my understanding that not only do we have a regular programme of proper social work inspections and other inspections at Dungavel, involving the agencies that are established by the Parliament and that are accountable to the Parliament, but that children who are in Dungavel or who may, at some time, spend some time there, could be involved in many aspects of our children's hearings system and wider children's services. My understanding is that there have been examples of that in the past, which I hope helps to answer Christine Grahame's question. The important fact is that there are no children currently in Dungavel. Whatever attitudes members may have to the issues of immigration and asylum, everyone will welcome that fact.

Photo of George Reid George Reid None

I apologise to David Mundell. We did not reach question 6.

Meeting suspended until 14:00.

On resuming—