Scotland politics

MSPs support end of time bar on child abuse payouts

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Image caption An inquiry is being conducted into historical child abuse in Scotland

MSPs have unanimously backed the general principles of a bill to scrap the time bar on survivors of childhood sexual abuse suing for damages.

The Scottish government wants to end the three-year limit on bringing a civil actions in such cases.

The Limitation (Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) Bill has passed its first legislative hurdle at Holyrood.

The justice committee previously heard that the cost of compensation could total at least £200m.

An independent Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry looking into historical abuse in care settings is currently under way, led by judge Lady Smith.

All of Holyrood's parties backed the legislation during the stage one debate in the chamber.

However, some members pointed out the financial and practical concerns which surround the number of survivors who may come forward and what the cost of compensation might be.

Community Safety Minister Annabelle Ewing said it was important to "remove barriers to survivors pursuing civil damages".

She said: "This bill is about access to justice. It is about acknowledging the unique position of survivors of childhood abuse as children who were betrayed by those they should have been able to trust - recognising the abhorrent nature of the abuse, the vulnerability of the child at the time, and the profound impact of abuse; an impact which lasts well into adulthood and which, itself, prevents people from coming forward.

"We will continue to do all that we can, to listen to survivors of childhood abuse, to provide the support they tell us they need and to right the wrongs done to them."

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