Miners’ Strike (Scheme of Pardon)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 24th September 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Neil Findlay Neil Findlay Labour

Following Annabelle Ewing’s question, I offer my sincere thanks to the Government for undertaking the independent review of the policing of the miners’ strike in Scotland. I give particular credit to the then Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Michael Matheson, for commissioning the review. Unlike his predecessor, he listened to us and took us seriously, and I personally and publicly thank him for that.

The review panel appears to have taken on board the proposal for a scheme of pardon that I put to it, but I understand that such a scheme would require legislation. Given that many former miners have passed on and those who remain grow older, will the First Minister commit to ensuring that any legislation to enact the scheme comes before Parliament before dissolution in March?

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

We will look very closely at the timescale for doing that. There are two things that I do not want to do today. Members across the chamber will note that I am not pushing back against any of the recent speculation in the media. They can draw their own conclusions from that, but it is important that I do not pre-empt publication of the report or the Government’s response.

For a wide range of reasons that are not to do with where our instincts were pushing us, but are to do with practical and legal issues, we have had to take some time to consider the issue properly, which is important. We will publish the report and the response in the middle of October. Michael Matheson deserves huge credit for taking the issue as seriously as he did, and for getting us to the position that we are in. Obviously, we will set out any implications of the report to Parliament at that point.

Suffice it to say that I fully understand that many miners and their families are not getting any younger, so if there is to be recognition of what was suffered, the sooner it happens the better.