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 John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

As I said to the committee, I have in my briefing the point that various organisations have welcomed the proposal for a waiver provision, including the Aberlour Child Care Trust, Quarriers, and Church of Scotland CrossReach. These are the issues that we have to explore. I want to answer Mr Greene’s question and I want these organisations to provide, because I want to address the issue that Helen Holland raises— she wants to make sure that these organisations are accountable to many survivors.

On the issue of the burden of proof, which Daniel Johnson raised, one of the important opportunities of the scheme that we are providing is that we do not have to have the same standard of proof as would be required in a court setting. We have set out that we are attracted by a standard of proof that is something equivalent to a civil standard, where the balance of probability is essentially assumed to be on the side of the victim and that something is more likely than not to have happened.

Crucially, in the advance payment scheme, 520 cases have been fulfilled and not one of them has, to date, been rejected on the basis of a lack of evidence. My officials are working hand in hand with survivors in some cases to find proof to substantiate the claims that are being made, but it is important to reassure Parliament that, in the approach that we have taken on the advance payments scheme, we have not rejected any cases on the basis of a lack of evidence so far.