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  1. 9.30am: Rural Affairs Committee
  2. 11.40am: General question time
  3. 12pm: First minister's question time
  4. Next: Peat extraction for horticulture debate
  5. 2.30pm: Ministerial Statement: Historic Child Abuse Inquiry
  6. Next: Scottish Elections (Reduction of Voting Age) Bill debate

Live Reporting

By Ailsa Brown and Craig Hutchison

All times stated are UK

Good night

And that concludes our live coverage from the Scottish Parliament on Thursday 28 May 2015.

Holyrood at night

Remember you can catch up on business from Holyrood at

BBC Scotland's Democracy Live.

We will be back on Tuesday 2 June, until then have a good weekend.

Decision time


MSPs back the general principles of the Scottish Elections (Reduction of Voting Age) Bill.

Debate concludes

Mr Swinney concludes the debate on the Scottish Elections (Reduction of Voting Age) Bill.

Boy with school bag at polling station

Government closing

Deputy First Minister John Swinney says today has been an example of unity in the chamber.

Mr Swinney agrees that this is a moment of history for the Scottish Parliament as it regularises the participation of 16 and 17 year olds in the electoral system.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney
Deputy First Minister John Swinney

He says he unreservedly welcomes the conversion of the Scottish Conservatives to backing extending the franchise.

Labour closing

Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald says some laws lead to social change and this bill is an example that it is clear the time is indeed right for this change.

Labour MSP Lewis MacDonald

Mr Macdonald says school students must be taught the skills to ask the tough questions they need to.

'Parliamentary Deity?'

Scottish Conservative MSP Annabel Goldie says there is "nothing like the zeal of the convert", saying her party has moved from opposition to enthusiasm for extending the franchise.

Ms Goldie says she and her colleagues had their minds changed following the enthusiasm and engagement of 16 and 17 year olds during the independence referendum campaign.

The former Scottish Conservative leader says she was privileged to sit on the Referendum Scotland Bill Committee chaired by the "parliamentary deity Bruce Crawford".

Conservative MSP Annabel Goldie
Conservative MSP Annabel Goldie

A divine intervention from Mr Crawford, says Deputy Presiding Officer John Scott.

Mr Crawford says he was wondering if Ms Goldie will take her new enthusiasm for votes at 16 to the House of Lords and amend the EU Referendum Bill.


Green MSP Alison Johnstone says the contribution of 16 and 17 year olds to the independence referendum was inspiring.

Green MSP Alison Johnstone
Green MSP Alison Johnstone

Ms Johnstone says when young people cannot vote we squander energy and we squander passion.

Tory backing

Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone says the Scottish Conservative party opposed the extension of the franchise in the referendum.

Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone
Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone

However the experience of how 16 and 17 year olds participated in the referendum debate was an indication of the willingness of them to engage in politics and the electoral process, is why the party backs the bill.

Labour backing

Labour MSP Jackie Baillie says her party is very pleased to back steps to extend the electoral franchise.

Labour MSP Jackie Baillie
Labour MSP Jackie Baillie

Ms Baillie says it is a "no brainer in policy terms".

Making history

Mr Crawford says the parliament will be making history at decision time if the general principles of the bill are passed.

National guidelines

Mr Crawford says there is a need for national guidelines for local authorities and schools, as he has heard of pupils who wanted to have debates with political parties represented but were not allowed to.

He welcomes the deputy first minister putting guidelines in place.

Unanimous backing

Devolution (Further Powers) Committee convener Bruce Crawford says since the referendum 16 and 17 year olds have become more politically engaged.

Mr Crawford says all five parties on the committee back the general principles of the bill.

Devolution (Further Powers) Committee Convener Bruce Crawford
Devolution (Further Powers) Committee Convener Bruce Crawford

Also, none of the witnesses, who gave evidence to the committee, were against reducing the age when youngster's can vote to 16 years old, he says.

Call for backing of the general principles of the bill

Mr Swinney says he wants to ensure voter registration and electoral process should be available to children with additional needs.

He concludes calling on MSPs to back the general principles of the Scottish Election (Reduction of Voting Age) Bill.

'Quality and objective information'

Mr Swinney says there is existing guidance on political literacy education and allows the teacher to determine what is taught in the classroom

Deputy First Minister John Swinney
Deputy First Minister John Swinney

The finance secretary says young people from Young Scot told him this morning of their desire for quality and objective information.


Plans to give 16 and 17-year-olds the right to vote in next May's Holyrood election took a step closer following backing from MSPs earlier this year.


report by the endorsed the change laid down in the
Scottish Election (Reduction of Voting Age) Bill.

Last year's referendum saw those aged 16 and 17 being allowed to vote.

Young voters leave polling station
Getty Images

The committee report followed months of evidence gathering, including from young people themselves.

It is expected that the bill will be passed by Holyrood in time for the Scottish Parliament election.

The MSPs welcomed work being done by the Electoral Commission and others to raise teenagers' awareness of their rights and the process for registration and voting.

Scottish Election (Reduction of Voting Age) Bill debate

Deputy First Minister John Swinney now leads a debate on the

Scottish Election (Reduction of Voting Age) Bill.


Ms Constance concludes saying the government is working very hard to adhere to the wishes of the survivors.

She says the purpose of this inquiry is for people to be listened to.

Interim payments

Labour MSP Jackie Baillie asks about making interim payments as they did in Ireland, given the deaths of victims recently

Ms Constance says this is not the end of the process, she says she won't second guess all the solutions.

Labour MSP Jackie Baillie
Labour MSP Jackie Baillie

She says she is aware of interim payments being paid and she is looking at other jurisdictions and she is in the business of finding solutions.

'Move forward'

Ms Constance says the first petition calling for an inquiry was lodged in 2002 so all parties must reflect on the time it has taken to establish an inquiry.

The education secretary says she is not that interested in the past, but more concerned about the here and now and how to move forward.


Labour MSP Graeme Pearson says some victims have waited for eight years for this inquiry and some have died.

Labour MSP Graeme Pearson
Labour MSP Graeme Pearson

Mr Pearson, a former senior policeman, calls for fresh details of the psychological support available to survivors.


Reevel Alderson

BBC Scotland's social affairs correspondent

Home Affairs Correspondent Reevel Alderson:

The Scottish government has announced who'll chair the public inquiry it's establishing into historic cases of the abuse of children in care.

It's Susan O'Brien, the QC who chaired the panel which investigated the death of Caleb Ness in Edinburgh twelve years ago.

The inquiry, which will begin work in July, will examine allegations of abuse in institutions and of those in foster care.

The government has also announced a thirteen point five million pound fund to support survivors of abuse.


Ms Constance says while the inquiry proceeds with its business the Scottish government will continue with its work and scrutiny.

Lib Dems

Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur asks about the demands of survivor to have access to third party advocates and calls for lessons to be learned from the inquiry.

Liberal Democrat Liam McArthur
Liberal Democrat Liam McArthur

BACKGROUND: Chair of the Historic Child Abuse Inquiry: Susan O'Brien

Susan O'Brien QC will chair the Inquiry.

  • Ms O'Brien is an experienced advocate in civil litigation, including issues pertinent to the inquiry
  • She has a knowledge and expertise in human rights
  • She also chaired the Caleb Ness Inquiry in Edinburgh in 2003

Time bar

Ms Constance says she gave a commitment that she would be very clear on the issue of a time bar.

The education secretary says that is why she announced the intention to lift the time bar post 1964.

She says there will have to be careful consultation on this.

There will be dialogue about cases pre 1964 as she wishes to open doors not close them, she says.

Ministerial response

The education secretary replies saying there is an additional £13.5m in funding over a five year period.

She says there is an additional £1 million to enhance the support available to all who have been abused.

About having a one-stop shop where survivors can access support.

Conservative question

Conservative MSP Liz Smith
Conservative MSP Liz Smith

Conservative MSP Liz Smith says it is imperative this parliament is united in the way it moves forward and asks for more detail about the funding.

Ministerial response

Ms Constance says the answer is yes and that it is crystal clear.

As to the chair of the inquiry she says there are a range of views in the survivors community and she took them all on board.

The education secretary says she is now confident that she has the right chair for this inquiry in Susan O'Brien.

Labour question

Labour MSP Iain Gray asks for assurances that she knows Ms O'Briens appointment as chair is acceptable to survivors.

Labour MSP Iain Gray
Labour MSP Iain Gray

Can the cabinet secretary assure us that establishments run by religious institutions are contained within the scope of the inquiry he asks.


Ms Constance says: "While we cannot undo the deeds of the past, we can acknowledge them, address their impact and learn how to do much better in the future to protect Scotland's most vulnerable children.

"As a Parliament, we can and must give a voice to those who have been silenced for too long.

"We can and must recognise the abuse they suffered as children.

"And, we can - we must - we will do everything we can to ensure the same thing never happens again."

Time bar lifted

Ms Constance says: "Having listened to survivors and examined the legal position carefully, I can announce that this Scottish government intends to lift the three-year time bar on civil action in cases of historical childhood abuse since September 1964. We will consult on how best to do this in the summer."

Funding announcements

The education secretary announces she will set up a dedicated support fund for survivors of abuse placed in care by the state.

This will enable survivors to identify their own personal goals and access the right support to achieve them, she says.

Work on this will begin immediately with £13.5 million allocated over the next five years to develop a dedicated in care support service.

She also announced an additional £1 million to enhance the support available to all who have been abused, whether in-care or not, through the SurvivorScotland development fund.

Chair announced

Ms Constance announces Susan O'Brien QC as the chair of the inquiry.

On-going effects

She says crucially, the inquiry will also examine the on-going effects of abuse on survivors and their families to improve our understanding of the issues they face, to help us improve support for them now and in the future.

'Within living memory'

The education secretary says the starting date for the inquiry's scope will simply be 'within living memory'.

Scope of the inquiry

The education secretary says reaching a decision on the scope of the inquiry has been challenging, given the wide range of views, even among survivors.


"The remit cannot be so wide that survivors lose hope of the Inquiry ever reaching clear, and specific conclusions. I am mindful of the urgency of this last issue, given the age and health of some survivors,

"The inquiry will examine any instance where a child was abused "in care", including residential care; children's homes; secure care; borstals and young offenders institutions; and also those placed in foster care."

'Shine a light in the dark corners'

Ms Constance says: "This Inquiry will aim to shine a light in the dark corners of the past, to shape how we respond in the present and guide how we go forward in the future."


Ms Constance says she hopes sincerely that survivors of abuse will use this opportunity to come forward.

Education Secretary Angela Constance
Education Secretary Angela Constance

She says we need to learn all we can to ensure no institution can abuse the trust of children.

Historic Child Abuse Inquiry statement

The education secretary opens her statement by saying she gave a commitment to establish an independent inquiry into historic child abuse of children in care.