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 Daniel Johnson Daniel Johnson Labour

I accept the point that the waiver cannot simply be additional to any potential liability that providers might find themselves facing. However, that is why it is incumbent on all of us to find alternative mechanisms to provide incentives. I think that the waiver sets out to provide an incentive, but it ultimately fails because it does not establish liability, and therefore the policies that providers have in place will not cover them. It also fails because uncapped liability might mean that trustees are simply unable to allow their organisations to participate, which is the point that Jamie Greene made.

For both those reasons, the waiver is deeply flawed, although I understand the predicament and the challenge that the Deputy First Minister set forth.

There are also issues with the calculation of fair payments. It is essential that the concept of sustainability is included in the bill as a guarantee to organisations that participation will not put them, or the important services that they provide, at risk.

The issues concerning individual assessment have been made clear by Kenneth Gibson, Oliver Mundell and Ross Greer. It is the most delicate area of the work that redress Scotland will undertake. We are asking the organisation to listen to survivors, determine the veracity of their claims, assess the severity of that experience and then award a compensation payment commensurate with that.

Although I understand Ross Greer’s suggestion that a single payment should be made, I disagree with him. However, we must set out clearer principles on which the assessments can be made and on the evidence that is required to establish proof. Those principles should be in the bill with further detail in regulations. The only way to provide justice for survivors is to have a clear process so that any decisions made by redress Scotland will be beyond reproach.

The bill is complex. There are other areas that I could and should give attention to, but I do not have time.

I thank my colleagues on the committee and note the collegiate and constructive way in which everyone has approached the bill. I thank the clerks for their work. I have no doubt that we can address the issues that have been identified and that we can make sure that the bill does what survivors require of it.