Spousal Evidence

Question Time — Scottish Executive — Justice and Law Officers – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:17 pm on 9th March 2006.

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Photo of Helen Eadie Helen Eadie Labour 2:17 pm, 9th March 2006

To ask the Scottish Executive whether it is concerned that the institution of marriage is open to abuse by people accused of crimes, including crimes of violence, and whether it will amend the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 to compel people to give evidence against their spouses, including in cases where they are not the victims themselves. (S2O-9215)

Photo of Cathy Jamieson Cathy Jamieson Labour

This is a complex issue, but we are sympathetic to amending the law and recognise that work needs to be done in the short term. In particular, there are some child protection issues that we want to ensure are addressed. I will bring forward, in the near future, a short consultation on the options for amending the law on spousal compellability.

Photo of Helen Eadie Helen Eadie Labour

I am delighted with the minister's response. Does she agree with me—I speak as one married woman to another—that the protection of vulnerable people is more important than marriage and that steps should be taken to protect our communities and bring to justice those who are accused of crimes? I welcome her announcement.

Photo of Cathy Jamieson Cathy Jamieson Labour

I thank Helen Eadie for her comments. It is important that we do whatever we can to ensure that vulnerable people are protected. I am especially keen to ensure that we serve the best interests of children and young people. I hope that Helen Eadie will engage actively in the consultation process. I am sure that she will, as she has made representations on the matter before.