Redress for Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care) (Scotland) Bill: Stage 1

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 17th December 2020.

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Photo of Iain Gray Iain Gray Labour

I take the point and I appreciate that that is the Deputy First Minister’s intention. However, all the evidence that we heard from providers and, indeed, from the Association of British Insurers was that insurers would not stand behind providers in making contributions to the redress scheme. That is partly because of the level of contestability of the evidence given in the scheme. However, we cannot compromise that because we want the scheme to be easy, or as easy as possible. We do need an incentive, though, and we need the contributions.

Providers also told us that the calculation of contribution that was being developed and the requirement for future unspecified contributions once in the scheme meant that their participation would jeopardise their continued existence and that trustees would not be able in law to agree to participate.

Providers are saying that they will be unlikely to be able to participate with the waiver in place. I think that the incentive that they need is a contribution formula that takes account of affordability, sustainability and the legal position of their trustees. I agree with Jamie Greene—they are not looking for a way out of the scheme; they are looking for a way into it, because they accept that they have a moral responsibility to take part in it.

The danger that we face is having a scheme that asks survivors to give up their rights to justice but fails to attract the contributions from providers that survivors want. That is the circle that must be squared. That is not easy, but my concern is that the Deputy First Minster’s response—in his letter to the committee and today—shows that he is still not seized of the need to find an alternative to the waiver or to change the contribution scheme.

I ask him to do that now, because time is so short, and if we are to get it right, he and his officials need to be working now with stakeholders to introduce those changes.

I will be honest: if need be, we will consider introducing amendments at stage 2 to remove the waiver and establish the principle of affordability in contributions. However, it would be much better if the Government were to start on that work immediately and do that itself.

Time is short. It has taken so long to get here, and we all want to get to the same place, so let us get it right. That is what we all want.