First Minister's Question Time – in the Scottish Parliament at 12:00 pm on 7th June 2007.
To ask the First Minister what engagements he has planned for the rest of the day. (S3F-27)
I have a number of important engagements that I am prepared to speak about, and an important meeting on the Commonwealth games, which I know will have Jack McConnell's support and the support of all parties in the Parliament.
The campaign by Glasgow and Scotland to win the 2014 Commonwealth games has the full support of all members on the Labour benches.
Does the First Minister agree that one of the first responsibilities of a Government is to ensure public safety and to protect the innocent and convict the guilty? Does he agree that Governments should take all possible steps to achieve that?
Yes. That is exactly why the Cabinet Secretary for Justice set out our strategy for crime and reoffending, to make Scotland not just a stronger place but a safer place for all in society.
DNA science, like many forensic sciences, plays a powerful and increasing role in our justice system.
In 2004, the law was changed in England and Wales. As of 2005, individual DNA samples, which in Scotland would have been destroyed, had helped to solve 88 murders, 45 attempted murders, 116 rapes and 62 other sexual offences. Does the First Minister think that it is acceptable for the law in Scotland to offer less protection than there is elsewhere in the United Kingdom?
I will reflect closely on what Jack McConnell said. There must be detailed matters to be considered—if there were not, I presume that the previous Administration would have implemented what Jack McConnell wants. However, in the spirit of the Parliament, I will consider the matter and write to Jack McConnell.
I agree with the First Minister that there are details to be considered, such as the case studies in the annual report on the operation
Does Alex Salmond agree that there are matters on which we can work with a fresh approach across the parties in this new Parliament? Before the election, Scottish Labour respected the views of our coalition partners and the majority in the Parliament on the retention of DNA samples, but we have a different Parliament now. There is evidence that the retention of DNA samples works. It is effective, it protects the public and it convicts the guilty. In the spirit of open debate and consensus that the First Minister promised us, will he join me in urging the new Justice Committee, which the Parliament will establish this afternoon, to consider the evidence and prepare a report on how we can extend the database in Scotland, so that we can learn lessons from elsewhere, help to tackle crime and secure more convictions in serious crimes in Scotland?
The Justice Committee's agenda will of course be a matter for that committee. It would not be in the spirit of consensus politics for the First Minister to start instructing parliamentary committees on what to say. However, if Jack McConnell is looking for a personal point of view—
On the basis that there are evidence and case studies to be properly considered, it appears that I, personally, might have more sympathy for the case that Jack McConnell is making than his former coalition partners did.
There are matters that need to be properly considered. It might just be that there are matters that impinge on public safety and public concern on which we can show to the public that we can rise above party politicking and that we can make cases based on evidence. If the case that Jack McConnell is proposing is that there should be a review of the matter based on evidence, bearing in mind the clear concerns on