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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 September, 2004, 19:55 GMT 20:55 UK
Minister ruling out abuse inquiry
Child
The minister pledged action on the problem
An inquiry into child abuse in Scotland's care homes has been rejected by the Scottish Executive.

Instead, Education Minister Peter Peacock pledged to do "whatever is necessary" to prevent abuse in homes.

He went before the Public Petitions Committee after ruling out an inquiry in June, following a petition from a man claiming to have suffered abuse.

MSPs criticised the minister's refusal and moved to hold a full debate in the Scottish Parliament.

Mr Peacock told the committee that various reforms had been implemented to protect children in care homes and he promised to release information held by the executive on residential schools.

Ministerial reassurance

He said the Scottish Law Commission had also been asked to review the time-bar limiting personal injury claims and he promised to talk with victims' groups.

He added: "It is difficult to conclude that an inquiry would be the cause of policy advances we are not already making or will be prepared to make if we see they would add to what we are already doing."

Tory MSP John Scott said: "You are judge and jury in this situation and the public are seeking independent reassurance not just ministerial reassurance."

There is nothing within the work that the Scottish Executive has done that says to me that there shouldn't be a public inquiry
Chris Daly
Petition sponsor
The minister replied: "That's the privilege but it's also the burden of government. That's why we've got to make these decisions."

The petition had been raised by Chris Daly, from Rutherglen.

Mr Daly's MSP Janice Hughes said she was "disappointed" at the decision, arguing an inquiry was important for the victims of abuse.

At the end of the 90-minute session, committee convener Michael McMahon said he favoured taking the "nuclear option" of demanding a debate in the Scottish Parliament - something the Public Petitions Committee does only rarely.

Speaking outside the committee room, Mr Daly said: "There is nothing within the work that the Scottish Executive has done that says to me that there shouldn't be a public inquiry.

"A public inquiry would bring about closure and help in the process of redress and recovery for survivors of institutional abuse."

Earlier in the day a group of about 20 former abuse victims staged a protest outside the Scottish Parliament with posters and petitions.


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