Chancellor of the Exchequer (Meetings)

First Minister's Question Time – in the Scottish Parliament at 11:59 am on 14 June 2007.

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Photo of Annabel Goldie Annabel Goldie Conservative 11:59, 14 June 2007

I, too, read with shock, anger and deep concern the press coverage of the report into the alleged abuse at Kerelaw residential school in Ayrshire. People will be filled with horror that Kerelaw, instead of being an environment for the provision of care, seems to have become an environment breeding a culture of abuse.

The First Minister might have partially answered my question in his reply to Mrs Oldfather, but does he agree that the first priority is to take immediate steps to trace those individuals referred to in the report who apparently could still be working with young people and to ensure that they are suspended from working with young people or other vulnerable individuals pending the conclusion of any investigations or court proceedings?

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond Parliamentary Leader (Westminster), First Minister of Scotland, Leader, Scottish National Party

Annabel Goldie is correct, and I thank her for her question. Glasgow City Council's report indicates that it has taken action by referring several individuals to the DWCL. As a point of explanation, 167 individuals are fully listed on the DWCL at the moment and a further 60 are provisionally listed. I am quite certain that the previous Executive's independent review, which is due to report in September, will consider many of the points that Annabel Goldie raises.

I think that Annabel Goldie meant to ask me about my meeting or otherwise with the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I have spoken to him on the phone and I hope to meet him soon in one capacity or another.

Photo of Annabel Goldie Annabel Goldie Conservative

Edmund Burke said:

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

Does the First Minister agree that it is deeply troubling that it would appear that, according to the report, there were people at Kerelaw who had

"knowledge and information about abuse and potential abuse and were unwilling or unable to address this abuse"?

Is the First Minister satisfied that procedures now exist in Scotland to ensure that people will be able to come forward safely and in confidence to report any such fears in the future? Will he investigate the reasons why those individuals felt that they could not speak out?

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond Parliamentary Leader (Westminster), First Minister of Scotland, Leader, Scottish National Party

I am certain that that will be one of the issues to be considered carefully by the independent review. The whole chamber will share Annabel Goldie's concern about this matter, which certainly goes beyond party concerns. However, having established the independent review to ascertain the lessons that we must learn so that we can prevent such an outrage from happening again, we should allow the review to take its course and, as a Parliament, carefully, effectively and quickly deal with its recommendations.