The next item of business is stage 3 proceedings on the Miners’ Strike (Pardons) (Scotland) Bill. In dealing with the amendments, members should have the bill as amended at stage 2—that is, Scottish Parliament bill 5A—the marshalled list and the groupings of amendments.
The division bell will sound and proceedings will be suspended for five minutes for the first division. The period of voting for each subsequent division will be up to one minute. Members who wish to speak in the debate on any group of amendments should press their request-to-speak buttons as soon as possible after I call the group.
Members should now refer to the marshalled list of amendments.
The right to protest, organise and rise to give workers a voice must be protected—then, now and always. For that reason, we welcome the Government’s intentions behind the bill. We welcome the pardon and the extensions that have been secured during the bill process.
Amendment 3, in my name, seeks to use language that is more inclusive, which is the approach that the Scottish Labour Party has taken to the bill. We seek to ensure that the bill is as wide and encompassing as possible, which is what amendment 3 would achieve.
I also encourage members to support amendment 6, in the name of Richard Leonard. The amendment would reinforce the welcome extension of the offences that are covered. At stage 2, the Government included theft, and I suggest that amendment 6 is more relevant to the bill because it covers offences relating directly to actions that were carried out in the course of industrial action. We must ensure that those are included.
I move amendment 3.
I begin by thanking all those who join us in the public gallery today. I have come here to speak in Parliament for them. I have come here to ask this Parliament to stand with them, and I have come here to call not simply for a symbolic act of Parliament—and a symbolic pardon—but for real justice: a moral justice, a practical justice, a meaningful justice and a financial justice.
Amendment 6 seeks to include in those who are to be pardoned the miners who were convicted of an offence under section 7 of the Conspiracy, and Protection of Property Act 1875. The 1875 act is an old and archaic act that goes all the way back to Benjamin Disraeli. In its time, it has been applied only rarely, although notoriously it was used to charge Des Warren, Ricky Tomlinson and the Shrewsbury pickets in 1973. It is a law that was also used during the miners strike in Scotland in 1984-85, but, as far as we can tell, only in Strathclyde, only in 16 cases and only to cover low-level offences that led to fines of only £50. For the avoidance of doubt, these were not acts of violence under section 7 of the 1875 act, which we are seeking pardon for; these were minor offences under section 7. The truth is that, if they had been committed in Fife or in the cabinet secretary’s constituency of Clackmannanshire, they would have resulted in nothing more than convictions for breach of the peace.
Without amendment 6, those people who were convicted of breach of the peace would be pardoned but the 16 miners who were convicted under the 1875 act would not. That would be an inconsistency—an injustice within an injustice. It would be irrational and unjust not to include these offences among those to be covered by the pardon.
Yes, I agree with that analysis. The John Scott review looked in some detail at the policing of the dispute, and the bill—which I hope will become an act—has its roots very firmly placed in that review.
I will now turn briefly to Pam Duncan-Glancy’s amendment 3. The strike ended 37 years ago, and all the pits have long since closed. I accept that, for new generations, this might seem like old history. However, for those of us who lived through it, in coalfield communities, it is still very real and very raw. Many of us joined miners support groups, back in 1984, and collected for the miners. We witnessed the strife and hardship that were caused, and we witnessed the brutality of the state during that year. Therefore, it is right that those supporters who were convicted for non-violent activities in support of the strike are included in the pardon, as is proposed by Pam Duncan-Glancy.
Let me finish by declaring an interest. I was a delegate to the central region miners support group, which met every Thursday night in Stirling throughout the strike. I am reminded that other delegates to that support group included the parents of the Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities. Her parents were two of the nicest Stalinists I have ever met. I was not arrested—and, as far as I know, they were not arrested—so maybe there is no need to declare an interest after all. However, we stood firmly in solidarity with the miners, along with thousands of others. Those who did so took part in the same battle as the miners, to save those jobs and to save an industry, a class, a culture and a way of life. They should be covered by the bill, which is why I urge members to vote for Pam Duncan-Glancy’s amendment 3.
I am delighted to speak in support of one of the amendments in the group. The two amendments relate to “qualifying conduct”, which applies to the conduct that occurred during the 1984-85 miners strike.
Amendment 3, in the name of Pam Duncan-Glancy, would leave out “supporting or opposing” and insert “relating to” in section 1. The amendment provides slightly improved drafting for section 1, and we are happy to support the amendment.
Amendment 6, in the name of Richard Leonard, wishes to extend the scope of the bill. It already covers “breach of the peace”, “breach of bail conditions” and
“an offence under section 4(1)(a) of the Police (Scotland) Act 1967”.
We believe that the proposal to incorporate the Conspiracy, and Protection of Property Act 1875 would extend the scope of the bill too widely, as covering those penalties and provisions aimed at the avoidance of violence seems unnecessary. We will support amendment 6 in the name of Richard Leonard.
This is a good day, because of the recognition and the pardon of miners who were sacked. Alexander Stewart spoke of violence. I was not a miner, but my dad was, and he was on strike in the 1984-85 strike. I toured the country with him on the picket lines, and I say to Alexander Stewart that the violence that I saw was the violence of the state. That is why it is right that the miners who were unlawfully sacked for fighting for their jobs should have the pardon that is coming.
The amendments relate to the people and communities who supported the miners. I was brought up in a mining community, and the buses that left Kelty to go to the picket lines had many people on them who were not miners but who were there to support them. We should recognise that, which is what Richard Leonard’s and Pam Duncan-Glancy’s amendments would start to do.
However, 16 miners were convicted under an outdated law. I appeal to the minister—I look forward to hearing what he has to say—not to leave out those 16 miners, by supporting the amendments that have been lodged.
Like Richard Leonard, I welcome those in the public gallery who are former miners and their representatives. As Alex Rowley has just said, this could be an extremely important and historic day for Scotland if we can pass the bill. I hope that we are able to pass it with one voice. We are all here to support justice—that is the whole purpose behind the bill.
As members may be aware, I did not support the amendment that Pam Duncan-Glancy lodged at stage 2 that sought to replace the reference to “supporting or opposing”, which was proposed by me, with a broader reference to “relating to” the strike. The matter was debated in committee, with the outcome that the reference to “supporting or opposing” was added to the bill at stage 2. Her amendment 3 brings the matter to the chamber for debate.
I have again listened carefully to Ms Duncan-Glancy’s explanation of why the form of wording in amendment 3 is preferable to what was supported in the committee and is now included in the bill. I note the member’s point about the bill covering only those who were in support of the strike, but I have discussed that very issue with the president of the National Union of Mineworkers, who is here today, and the union is perfectly comfortable with the new formulation.
A consequence of moving away from exclusively covering pickets, demonstrations and similar gatherings to covering disturbances in the community, as we did at stage 2, is that we need to recognise that people on both sides of the strike could have relevant convictions, remembering that the bill is about reconciliation. I therefore remain concerned that the broader wording that the member suggests is rather vague and might create uncertainty. In turn, that uncertainty could make it harder for people to self-assess whether they qualify for the pardon.
The current reference to “supporting or opposing” makes clear the purpose of the activity that a person was engaged in, participating in or responding to during the miners’ strike, and personal matters are expressly excluded. I say to all members that, if we are going to have any real attempt at reconciliation, somebody who was against the strike also has to be covered for the same behaviours as those who were for it. As I say, I have discussed the matter with the NUM and, as I understand it, that formulation presents the union with no issues. On that basis, I cannot support amendment 3 and would urge other members to vote against it if Ms Duncan-Glancy presses her amendment.
I turn to Richard Leonard’s amendment 6. Members may be aware that the committee had a cordial and constructive debate on the matter at stage 2. The limited data that was available suggested that, as has been mentioned, there were 16 convictions related to the strike under section 7 of the Conspiracy, and Protection of Property Act 1875, all of which took place in the Strathclyde region. Anecdotal evidence was put forward that similar conduct would have been prosecuted as a breach of the peace in other parts of Scotland. The offence, on conviction, carried a maximum fine of £50 or three months’ imprisonment. There is no evidence that anyone was imprisoned as a result of the convictions.
The conduct that led to such convictions, even if a degree of violence was involved, could therefore be considered to be on the lower end of the scale and similar to conduct that was charged elsewhere as a breach of the peace. I was, therefore, sympathetic to calls for the offences to be included in the bill and had agreed to discuss that further with Richard Leonard ahead of stage 3.
We have, however, subsequently discovered—I have discussed this with Mr Leonard and with Nicky Wilson of the NUM—that the behaviour that was covered by the offence in section 7 of the 1875 act is now covered by an offence in section 241 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992. That means that the criminalisation of that behaviour forms part of the subject matter of the 1992 act, which, in turn, falls within the reservation of
“Employment rights and duties and industrial relations” under the Scotland Act 1998. If that offence was to be added to the list of qualifying offences, we would make the bill vulnerable to a challenge—and not just a theoretical challenge—on the basis of its legislative competence. If that happened, it could risk delaying the bill’s commencement and the coming into force of the pardon for everyone affected. I am relatively confident that no member would wish to see that outcome, given that the bill will commence the day after royal assent if it is passed later today. However, I realise that that will be disappointing for those who support a more comprehensive pardon.
I have already informed Mr Leonard that I will explore whether the offence can be added to the legislation later, through a section 104 order under the Scotland Act 1998. However, that would require the consent of the United Kingdom Government to progress an order through the UK Parliament on our behalf. Therefore, matters that touch on compensation, which we will come to shortly, and on the Conspiracy, and Protection of Property Act 1875 constitutionally fall to the UK Government.
That does not mean that nothing can be done, but I feel that a more persuasive case could be made on both of those matters if we could come up with a common approach with the UK Government. I have already written to UK Government ministers, and I hope to meet them to discuss those matters. However, for the purpose of the debate, I am unfortunately unable to support amendment 6, and I urge other members to vote against it if the member elects to move it.
As my colleagues and I have said, the bill is of historic importance not just for the historical pardon, but for the signal that it sends to workers, including in the future, that they can and will be heard. That is why it is really important that we make the legislation as comprehensive as it possibly can be.
I press amendment 3.
Thank you. There was a constructive debate in the committee about the scope of the bill with regard to which individuals would qualify as eligible for a pardon. I was pleased to support the cabinet secretary’s amendments at stage 2, which were agreed by the committee and sought to extend eligibility to individuals who were members of the household of a miner at the time that a qualifying offence was committed. I know that the cabinet secretary was happy to keep an open mind on such matters, despite his concerns about diluting the effect of the pardon.
Therefore, the intention behind my amendments is to extend, in a limited way, what is meant by “qualifying individual”. Amendments 1 and 2, when taken together, seek to broaden eligibility for the pardon to an individual convicted of a qualifying offence who meets the other conditions of eligibility and who, at the time of committing such an offence, was a parent, sibling or child of a miner. “Miner” is defined in section 4.
Amendment 1 broadens eligibility to those categories of family members who were not, at the time of such an offence being committed, a member of the household of a miner. Amendment 2 defines what is meant by a “sibling” of a miner. It means:
“an individual who has at least one parent in common with a miner.”
The intention is to capture half siblings under the definition of a qualifying individual. A definition of “qualifying individual” is, of course, already given in section 1A.
I hope that all members would agree that it is important that wives, children, parents, siblings and other members of the household of a miner—those who, it could be argued, were close enough to a miner to be most directly affected by the impact of the strike—are able to be pardoned, subject to their meeting the other qualifying criteria. I am pleased that the Government has worked with me to introduce my amendments.
Pam Duncan-Glancy’s amendments in this group also seek to further broaden the formulation of “qualifying individuals”. She knows that I have some sympathy with her amendments. We have the same goal of expanding the definition of people who qualify. However, I believe that there is a risk that some of her amendments could dilute the effect of the bill for people who are most likely to have been directly affected by the impact of the strike.
I trust that the cabinet secretary and other members will take the view that my amendments seek to strengthen the bill without diluting the effect of it.
I move amendment 1.
As has been said, the bill gives us an opportunity not just to pardon the people who were impacted during the miners strike but to signal that, in such a situation in future, the terrible treatment that workers endured just for standing up for their rights will not be tolerated or repeated. We would like to seize that opportunity and allow the bill to go further.
My amendments in this group seek to ensure that the bill fulfils its policy intent in the widest, most comprehensive way possible. That is why we seek to broaden the pardon beyond members of the household to other family members and friends who stood in solidarity with striking miners.
Amendment 4 seeks to add family members who might not have lived in the household. Amendment 5 seeks to add people who stood in solidarity with striking miners. Amendment 9 is a consequential amendment that defines the term that amendment 4 seeks to introduce.
As I have said, I was young at the time of the miners strike, but I know from my involvement in strikes now that, at times, you bring with you not only your household but your family, friends and supporters, and your trade union colleagues and those who are standing in solidarity with you. That is why I and Labour members so strongly believe that the pardon should include not only people in the household but those who stood in solidarity with miners.
Now more than ever, it is crucial that workers know that they can have the support of other people without fear of losing their jobs or their livelihoods. We saw that in the 1980s, and we see it again today, in the situation of workers at P&O and those who are standing in solidarity with the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers.
We need to have a workers movement that is fighting fit, and the bill signals that we believe in workers’ rights. Our amendments seek to strengthen the bill by recognising that the fight for workers’ rights is a fight for all of us. I urge members to support amendments 4, 5 and 9.
Group 2 deals with qualifying individuals, who are defined in section 1A. The term “qualifying individual” means an individual who was a miner or who
“was, at the time of the commission of the offence, a member of the same household as a miner.”
A qualifying individual includes a deceased individual. Therefore, a pardon will apply posthumously as well as to the living. Amendments 1, 4, 5, 9 and 2 seek to extend the scope of the bill so that it incorporates a wider range of individuals. We believe that, in doing so, they go too far. Therefore, we will not support any of the amendments in this group.
As Fulton MacGregor said, at stage 2, there was a constructive debate in committee on the scope of the qualifying individuals who would be eligible for the pardon. Throughout the process, it has been my approach to find compromise with the Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee and other points of view. We went further than John Scott’s committee had proposed in trying to meet some of the concerns that members expressed.
As someone who was a trade union member for two decades and a branch officer and trade union official, I share Pam Duncan-Glancy’s view that people should be allowed, encouraged and supported to express solidarity with others who are in difficult circumstances. I would not quibble with that. I, too, was young—or younger—during the miners strike. As a student, I supported some of the activities that Richard Leonard talked about in relation to support funds for miners and so on.
At stage 2, amendments were agreed to that extended eligibility to individuals who, at the time of committing a qualifying offence, were members of the household of a miner. The individuals who are mentioned in Fulton MacGregor’s amendments are arguably the most likely people to have been directly affected by the impact of the strike. The category of “supporter” in amendment 5 is quite vague. It is not clear from the amendment what actions, if any, would qualify an individual to be a supporter, or whether it would all be down to the motivation for committing the relevant offence. The danger of creating that ambiguity and doubt is that it would add to the likelihood of the effect of the pardon being diluted. The amendment would make self-assessment more difficult than for household members or close relatives. However, it was argued that eligibility should be extended to cover more family members. I was happy to keep an open mind on that.
Fulton MacGregor’s amendments 1 and 2 seek to introduce a small extension to the definition of “qualifying individual” to cover the parents, siblings and children of a miner. I believe that broadening eligibility to those categories of close family members who—this is an important point—at the time of such an offence being committed may not have been a member of the same household as a miner will strengthen the bill without diluting its effect.
I recognise, of course, that there will always be uncertainty as to how many of the individuals who were convicted during the strike were a parent, a sibling or a child or even another member of a miner’s household. However, I feel that it is important that those who were immediately close to a miner, and were arguably more directly affected by the impact of the strike, are able to be pardoned, subject to meeting the qualifying criteria.
I am therefore happy to support amendments 1 and 2, which have been lodged by Mr MacGregor. I urge all members to do the same.
Pam Duncan-Glancy’s amendment 4, linked with amendment 9, introduces a definition of what is meant by “another family member”. I know that the member wishes for the pardon to apply to a longer list of family members, some of whom might not have been immediately close to a miner. These matters were debated at stage 2, and I could not support the amendment that Ms Duncan-Glancy had lodged. I know that other committee members shared that view. I was pleased to be able to meet the member to discuss the matter afterwards. I recognise that she has refined the wording for stage 3, but my concerns remain.
As I indicated at stage 2, there is a risk that these amendments could have the unintended consequence of diluting the effect of the pardon for miners, for members of their households and, if the chamber were to agree to Mr MacGregor’s amendments, for the parents, siblings and children of a miner. They were arguably the people most likely to have been directly affected by the impact of the strike, because of the normally very close nature of such relationships.
For those reasons, I cannot support amendments 4 and 9. I urge other members to do likewise if the member decides to move them.
Pam Duncan-Glancy’s amendment 5 seeks to extend the pardon to individuals who, at the time of the commission of a qualifying offence, were supporters, in either a professional or a personal capacity, of the miners strike. I have been open to refining the detail of the bill in ways that enhanced it without diluting its main purpose. I responded positively to the committee’s recommendations at stage 1 so that household members of a miner could be included. I am also willing to support a small extension to cover certain very close family members who may not always be captured by the definition of household member in the bill.
I recognise the intention behind amendment 5. I agree that solidarity and standing up collectively for the cause that a person believes in is right. The definition of supporter as proposed by the member would, however, seek to extend eligibility to a considerable number of other people for whom I believe the connection to being directly impacted by the strike is less certain. I believe that the intention behind amendment 5 could create an even greater risk: that the effect of the pardon is diluted for miners, as for the immediate members of their households and, if Fulton MacGregor’s amendments 1 and 2 are agreed to, for the parents, siblings and children of a miner who may have been convicted for actions that they took as a result of that impact.
I thank the cabinet secretary for the conversation that we had during the period between stages 2 and 3. I understand the need not to dilute the relevance of the bill, which is absolutely and incredibly important. However, I also believe that it is important for people who stood in solidarity with miners at the time, and for those who will do so again in the future. It has been said that much of the bill’s importance is symbolic. I feel that much of the symbolism of including people who were supporting miners at the time is incredibly important for the future of our workers’ rights in this country.
I urge the cabinet secretary and members across the chamber to consider agreeing to amendment 5 on that basis.
I can only repeat the points that I have made. We have a genuine point of disagreement. I think that the effect of extending the definition so widely would be to have an impact on those miners who will be subject to the pardon; I genuinely believe that it would start to dilute its effect. That is why, on one hand, I have tried to hold to that view and, on the other, tried to compromise where I can, by extending the definition to household and family members. I acknowledge that the member is part of the genesis of the amendments that Fulton MacGregor has lodged, but I have to have an eye on how effective the pardon will be and how its effects will be felt by miners themselves. I think that extending the definition too widely will dilute that effect.
I therefore cannot agree to amendment 5, unfortunately. I say “unfortunately” because it would have been ideal if the chamber were able to agree on all these points. I hope that we will do so on creating the pardon itself. There is more work to be done if we are able to pass the bill. Doing so with a united front would be the most effective way.
I cannot support amendment 5 for the reasons that I have mentioned. I urge members not to support it if Pam Duncan-Glancy elects to move it.
I welcome the debate that we have just had. However, I am disappointed that, despite my efforts, I have not received the Conservatives’ support for my amendments. As this is my last chance to get their support, I say to them that my amendments represent common sense. They extend eligibility to people to whom it would already apply if they had lived in the same household. I say that as a last-ditch attempt to get the Conservatives’ support.
Like the cabinet secretary, I have a lot of sympathy with Pam Duncan-Glancy’s amendments. We have been in the same space trying to achieve the same thing, but I feel that her amendments are just a wee bit too wide. I hope that she does not mind me saying that. I therefore think that the cabinet secretary is right not to support them and not to dilute the bill at this stage. We have a really good and historic opportunity to pass a groundbreaking bit of legislation for the people who are affected, some of whom are in the public gallery today. I would not want the bill to be diluted in any way.
I press amendment 1.
The cabinet secretary has spoken about the need to consensus and unanimity. However, in the next breath, he said that the whole point of the bill is to grant a symbolic pardon. Many of us, including the miners, want this act of Parliament to mean something more than that: to make a difference, not just be symbolic.
In its briefing note on the bill, the Law Society of Scotland stated:
“Given that pardons are ordinarily issued in order to relieve a person of some or all the legal consequences arising from a criminal conviction ... we would welcome clarity on the impact that a pardon would have.”
A scheme of financial redress would do exactly that, and would have a positive impact.
The cabinet secretary has spoken of
“the case for compensation from the UK Government”,
but in the next breath, he declared that
“a scheme would be complex and divisive, and it would be viewed by many people as unfair.”
Which is it? He cannot seriously argue that a Scottish Parliament scheme would be inherently divisive and unfair, but a UK Government scheme would not.
At stage 2, the cabinet secretary said:
“The issue is not so much the time that it would take to introduce legislation; it is the time that it would take to put together a proper compensation scheme.”—[
Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee
, 10 May 2022; c 22, 24, 22.]
Amendment 8 addresses that.
To the Greens and the Scottish National Party back benchers, who say in all sincerity that they do not want to delay the pardon and that a financial redress scheme would mean that the bill would be unlikely to come into force in the next eight months—according to Mark Ruskell—I say that amendment 8 address precisely that point. It gives the Scottish Government, in consultation with the miners, their families and their union, up to a year to produce, in the cabinet secretary’s words, “a proper compensation scheme”.
That is exactly what was done with the Mental Health (Scotland) Act 2015 and the Redress for Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care) (Scotland) Act 2021, which was passed by this Parliament just last year. The idea of this Parliament passing a law without a fully worked-out scheme at this stage has clear precedent.
The excuses for opposing a scheme over the past few months have been manifold: that employment law and industrial relations are not devolved; that this Parliament did not exist in 1984; that this Parliament is not competent; or that time is of the essence. I have to say that if it is competent for this Parliament to pardon the miners for what happened in 1984-85, it must be competent for this Parliament to compensate the miners for what happened in 1984-85. After all, the bill is not about the application of employment law during the strike; it is about the application of civil and criminal law during the strike.
Let me put it in plain terms: the bill came about because striking miners were arrested in Scotland by Scottish police officers, prosecuted in Scotland by Scottish procurators fiscal and convicted in Scotland by Scottish sheriffs in Scottish courts. It was that—in the words of the Scott inquiry—
“arbitrary application of the criminal law” that led to the
“disproportionate, excessive and unreasonable” treatment of the miners. That is what we must now address.
The cabinet secretary has said on the record:
“Policing in Scotland followed a different path”—[
Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee
, 8 February 2022, c 14.]
during the strike. It did. If someone was a striking miner in Scotland, they were twice as likely to be arrested and three times as likely to be dismissed as miners in any other coalfield. That is why a scheme of financial redress should be brought back to this Scottish Parliament.
Finally, I stress that the proposal in amendments 7 and 8 is supported by the National Union of Mineworkers. It does not want us to take a back seat on this question; it wants the Scottish Parliament to take a lead on it. As Nicky Wilson, the NUM president, said recently in a letter to all MSPs:
“The NUM wants to see compensation paid to miners across the UK. We believe that this bill provides a historic opportunity for Scotland to lead the way by including a compensation scheme for those miners, and we will continue to advocate for a public inquiry.”
Let us seize this historic opportunity: let us win justice for the miners and the miners’ families; let us make history, right these wrongs and vote for material justice, meaningful justice and financial justice, as well as symbolic justice.
I move amendment 7.
The Parliament has recent precedent for passing legislation that rights historical wrongs. It did so with the Historical Sexual Offences (Pardons and Disregards) (Scotland) Act 2018. I am sure that the Government will make much of the fact that a similar financial compensation scheme was not attached to that act for men who were convicted of crimes that are no longer illegal. I was the deputy convener of the committee that was charged with leading that bill through Parliament, and we interrogated that issue extensively. We asked many men to whom the act would apply—or those who came before the committee at least—whether they were after financial compensation, and they were clear that they were not interested in it. Financial compensation schemes have been extended as part of similar historical pardons bills on homosexuality, particularly in Germany, but those who made representations to the committee said that it was not a money issue; rather, it was a justice issue in righting an older wrong.
However, in this case, we can see a demonstrable link between the wrongs that were done to the miners and their families, and financial hardship and financial wrongdoing. In some cases, things would follow those people throughout their careers. Therefore, there is a case to examine a scheme for financial recompense, which is why the Liberal Democrats will support Richard Leonard’s amendments 7 and 8. I commend Richard Leonard for his excellent speech and his passion in pressing the issue.
Amendments 7 and 8, in the name of Richard Leonard, revisit the compensation scheme that was brought forward at stage 2 and rejected on the ground that introducing a compensation scheme is not the purpose of the bill and that it would only delay the bill’s implementation. We do not wish to see the implementation delayed, so we are minded not to support the amendments.
When I was driving across here today, I thought about the day that the miners’ strike ended and the immense disappointment that there was when I went into the strike centre in my home village of Kelty.
There is a comparison that we can draw. My late dad was then in his early 60s, and he was made redundant within six months. He got a redundancy payment, and he lived another 25 years. He got his pit coal and had a decent life. He was able to live a reasonable life with the redundancy money that he received. However,
I also think of people such as my friend from Dunfermline, Bob Young, who was sacked.
On that day, there were people who worked together and stood together. People were sacked not through any fault of their own, but because of the way that they were treated by the British state. It is right that they are pardoned, but their lives suffered. Their lives did not end on the day that the strike ended. They were out of work. They never got the correct compensation and redundancy payments that others, such as my dad, got. In many cases, they found it difficult to get a job because they were blacklisted as sacked miners. They paid a heavy price after the strike when the others went back.
As Richard Leonard said, the compensation scheme is not tricky. I appeal to the cabinet secretary to look again at it. A UK scheme will not be established—the cabinet secretary knows that that will not happen. The Tories will never admit the wrongs that they did to mining communities throughout Scotland, the wrongs that were done to sack miners, the wrongs that were done to their families, and the hardship that those people continued to take. As Richard Leonard said, the bottom line is that miners were arrested by police in Scotland, the cases were considered by the procurators fiscal in Scotland, and the miners were convicted in Scottish courts. There is no reason why the Scottish Government, in taking the steps that I welcome, cannot take the next step and give compensation and recognition to miners who suffered when the strike finished and their families, who also suffered. Let us compensate them.
If Richard Leonard lets me conclude, he will have a chance to respond.
Liability lies at the feet of the UK—a UK which, as Richard Leonard knows, has taken £4.4 billion out of the miners pension fund without putting a penny into it. The UK is sitting on that money—they filched it. Compensation should come from there, not from the budgets that we have in this place for public services. That would penalise the health service, policing, education and so on. [
.] I hear what members ask about what the UK will do. I call upon Labour members, along with their Welsh Assembly colleagues, to pursue the UK Government to reach into that £4.4 billion that it has filched from the miners pension fund to set up a proper compensation fund and, at the same time, to do what we are doing in this place, which is to grant a collective pardon. We are the first nation to do this; it is a disgrace that it has not been—
I am sure that people listening to Christine Grahame—who is someone whom I respect immensely—will think to themselves, “What about those millions and millions of pounds in compensation that are being given to Rangers Football Club directors because of the unlawful way that they were treated?” We could find money for them, so let us find money for the sacked miners.
That was in response to actions that took place while the Scottish Parliament was in place. This is about what happened in 1984 and it is not as though they do not have the money. How can members possibly support £4.4 billion that was taken from the miners pension fund not being used for a compensation fund?
I say to Labour members: do not let yourselves be bulldozed by a Tory Government; get your colleagues at the Welsh Assembly to put on pressure for a compensation scheme as well, and let us shame a Tory Government that requires to be shamed.
This is perhaps the most substantial of the amendments and, unfortunately, it is also the most contentious and divisive. I had hoped that we would be able to reach a common position so that we could move forward on achieving what we all want. I regret that that has not been possible.
The Scott inquiry did not propose a compensation scheme, for very good—
Does the minister accept that it was not part of the Scott inquiry’s terms of reference to look at compensation? Does he accept that the adviser to the Scott inquiry, Professor Jim Phillips, is in favour of a compensation scheme?
Dennis Canavan, a former MSP and a member of the Scott review board, is also in favour of a compensation scheme—legislated for by this Parliament?
I will just repeat the point: the Scott inquiry, which had broad support within this Parliament, did not recommend a compensation scheme as part of the bill.
That was partly because the inquiry team wanted this to be an act of reconciliation in communities which were riven apart by the miners strike.
I heard mention of the Scottish procurators fiscal and the Scottish police. It was the National Coal Board. It was industrial relations and employment law, which are reserved to Westminster. I have heard members saying that it was the political direction of the strike—how are we to examine that and apportion blame for it? The records are held at Westminster.
The game was given away by Alex Rowley when he said that it was the British state that was responsible. That is the point. We do not disagree on the principle of compensation—we have said that from the start. It is about how it can be best achieved. I do not know what amendment Alex Rowley was talking to, because no compensation scheme is proposed in Richard Leonard’s amendments—there is no compensation scheme proposed. It is worth bearing that in mind when we come to the vote.
Amendment 7 removes section 3(b) of the bill, which provides that section 1—which is the pardon—does not
“give rise to any right, entitlement or liability”.
It seeks to strike down that provision.
Amendment 8 seeks to place a duty on the Scottish ministers to carry out a review of the options for compensating those individuals subject to the pardon, or the legal representatives of such individuals, which I assume refers to individuals who may have died, with their representatives now taking on that case.
The amendment also seeks to have us publish a report on such as review, within 12 months of Royal Assent, setting out
“the estimated costs of those options, and recommendations on how best to achieve the aim of compensating for the harms suffered by those subject to the pardon.”
I have been consistent throughout the process: I have considered options for compensation and reviewed them; I have discussed the matter with officials, the committee and individual members. We have reviewed it, and we think that the bill is the best way to try to achieve that aim.
To repeat, amendment 8 does not create a right to compensation. What Richard Leonard proposes does not create that right. There is no need to remove section 3(b) of the bill. Removing that provision would imply that the Parliament does create a right, entitlement or liability, but it is uncertain what that would be, looking at the bill as it is drafted. All that amendment 8 seeks to do is to require a review; it does not create a right to compensation, now or in the future. I am concerned that amendment 7 would therefore create uncertainty, and I am not prepared to support it. I urge members to do likewise if Mr Leonard presses amendment 7.
I turn to amendment 8. As many members in the chamber will already know, my view is that it is for the UK Government to devise a scheme and make compensation payments to former miners and their families. Alex Rowley mentioned blacklisting, which we all know went on. The one attempt that there has been to try to deal with blacklisting was in the House of Commons, because it has the powers to do that. Maria Fyfe tried that in 1988. That is where the powers to address this lie.
I have a genuine fear about what Richard Leonard has proposed. Some of us are willing to pursue the route that we think is most productive, which is to put pressure on our political parties in Westminster in order to make sure that any future Government reviews compensation. I do not know whether Alex Rowley holds out hope that there will be a Labour Government at any time in the future, but if he assumes that the Tories will always be in power, then we are all doomed. It could be the case that we can try to propose a solution to our political parties and, as Christine Grahame said, to our colleagues in the Welsh Assembly. If we could do that, or if there is a change in the Government, or a change of heart in the Tory party—which I share Alex Rowley’s pessimism about—then we will be ready to go. We will have all the support. However, we will undermine that if we say that we are also looking to review a compensation scheme in Scotland. “We think that you should do that, but we are also going to review one in Scotland.” That is why I think that amendment 8 would work against the interests of those who are trying to seek compensation.
My view is that any compensation should, if it is to be taken forward, be properly thought out, uniform and fair, and should take into account the wishes of former miners across the UK. A previous iteration of Richard Leonard’s proposals would have had us provide a pardon for some people, but not for others. If people had lost their job, then they would have got compensation, but not if they have been pardoned, and vice versa. That would have created more division, when the bill is all about trying to seek some reconciliation.
I repeat that it is for the UK Government to devise a scheme and to make compensation payments to former miners and their families. That is why I continue to press for a UK inquiry. I am sorry that Richard Leonard will not take up the proposal that I made to him previously, which is that we should approach our own parties. Today, I spoke with a senior member of the Welsh Assembly, who also said that when they have had discussions in Plaid Cymru and the Labour Party, they have talked about compensation in the context of the £4.4 billion hoovered out of the miners’ pension fund. That is what they have talked about, and we should be getting them onside and making sure that we have the maximum possible impact on the Westminster Government.
I previously put on record, and I am happy to do so again, that the Scottish Government would be willing to consider and compile as much factual and other information as the NUM and other bodies may be able to offer—and they have offered to give us that information—as part of any future representation that is made to the UK Government. That offer is not just abstract; I have already written to the Home Secretary and to a number of other people in order to try to garner a level of support that ensures that we can exercise the maximum possible amount of pressure.
I also hope that Mr Leonard and all other members agree that it is important that we have—if we can still achieve it—consensus across the chamber for the bill at stage 3. A united front can strengthen our call for the UK Government to undertake the inquiry that it should be undertaking, and that miners and their families have been asking for for a long time. Division at this stage of the bill will weaken the cause. The lack of a consistent approach to compensation across the chamber may be questioned by those whom we seek to influence and undermine any collective action that we could take together at Holyrood and with our colleagues at Westminster.
However, for now, I have to speak to the amendment that is in hand. I believe that the inclusion of amendment 8 in the bill will distract attention and focus away from the campaign that we can all take forward collectively to the UK Government following the bill’s passage. Indeed, the Scottish ministers have already assessed the options for the payment of compensation, which I have set out.
Although the bill as drafted means that someone can assume a pardon if it is passed, amendment 8 would mean that they could not assume that and they would have to apply for compensation. Given the age of the miners involved, and the fact that many are no longer with us, we deliberately sought not to make that an onerous process for those who would be involved. Therefore, I will not support Richard Leonard’s amendment 8, and would urge members to do similar if the member wishes to move it.
Well, you heard it there: the cabinet secretary wants me to withdraw my amendment or wants members to vote against it, in the interests—he says—of unity. Well, why does he not support the amendment, in the interests of unity?
He wants me to withdraw it because, in his words,
“it is for the UK Government to devise a scheme”.
That is the same UK Government which, on 20 May, in the
, he himself called “corrupt, immoral” and “law-breaking”. Even the mild-mannered Fulton MacGregor, on 13 May, in
, called the UK Government “sleazy, lying, law-breaking Tories”. As recently as two days ago, the First Minister said:
“This is a UK Government that has no respect for democracy”.
Why is the cabinet secretary now telling his constituents—the ex-miners, their wives, their partners, their mothers, their sons, their daughters—to put their faith in the UK Government?
But wait: the cabinet secretary tells us that he is hoping to meet the Home Secretary. Is that the same Home Secretary who, this week, is trying to force asylum seekers on to flights to Rwanda?
I have to say to the Greens—
I think that I made it clear, when I spoke, that I did not expect that the people in those offices in the UK Government that he has mentioned would remain the same for all time. I think that what I have set out is the most effective way to do it.
Richard Leonard, in talking about me making excuses, and raising the temperature and the division in this debate, is working against what I think we are all trying to achieve. I would ask him to think about his remarks before he makes them, if we are to have that consensus.
I assume that he thinks that it is not worthwhile to approach the UK Government at all—he will not do that. We will do that, regardless of whether he comes with us or not, and whether or not he speaks to his colleagues. I just hope that he will temper his remarks and try to support the greater good.
This afternoon, I am approaching the Scottish Parliament for legislation in this area.
“be the Scotland of Kenmure Street, not Downing Street”,
so which side of the debate are they on? Why are they putting their faith in Priti Patel, rather than in this Parliament?
The cabinet secretary complains that my amendment will distract attention and turn the focus away from any campaign that we can all take forward. I have to remind him that this is not a one-party state—this is a Parliament, elected by the people. We are entitled to have a different view from that of the Government; even those in the Government party are entitled to hold a different view from that of the Government. That is not a sign of weakness—it is a sign of democratic strength.
The cabinet secretary says that the Scottish ministers have already assessed the options for the payment of compensation that he has set out, but saying, “No—no—no” at each stage of the bill’s passage is not setting out the options, it is government by ultimatum. The options have not been set out; they have not been set out before this Parliament, and they have not been set out before the people. That is what my amendment asks for.
The cabinet secretary knows that it is perfectly possible, perfectly competent and perfectly affordable for the Scottish Government to spend time over the next year to come up with a scheme of financial redress and bring it back to the Parliament. That is all that this amendment seeks to achieve. It is a modest, reasonable amendment, which I hope that democrats in this Parliament, in the spirit of and in an act of unity will support.
The vote is not closed yet, Ms Grahame, so please keep trying, and if it does not succeed, you can always make a point of order after the vote has closed.
The vote is now closed.
The result of the division is: For 88, Against 27, Abstentions 0.
Amendment 2 agreed to.
That ends consideration of amendments.
As members will be aware, at this point in the proceedings the Presiding Officer is required under standing orders to decide whether, in her view, any provision of the bill relates to a protected subject matter; that is, whether it modifies the electoral system and franchise for Scottish parliamentary elections. In this case, in the Presiding Officer’s view, no provision of the Miners’ Strike (Pardons) (Scotland) Bill relates to a protected subject matter. Therefore, the bill does not require a supermajority in order to be passed at stage 3.