Child migration redress scheme should be extended – Gordon Brown

Former prime minister Gordon Brown has called for the child migration redress scheme to be extended.

In a statement read out to the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry on Thursday, Mr Brown said the payment scheme should continue due to the possibility that not all child migrants may yet have come forward.

Mr Brown was prime minister in 2010 when he made an apology on behalf of the nation for the child migrant programme, involving more than 130,000 poor children and those in care being sent overseas, mainly to Australia and Canada, where many reported suffering physical and sexual abuse.

In his statement, Mr Brown said: “I recognise that the abuse of vulnerable Scottish child migrants and the damage that was inflicted deserves separate investigation and I applaud the work being done by the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry to address this.

“I’m told that all Scottish child migrants known to the Child Migrants Trust have now received a redress payment. But there will still be migrants not yet in contact with the Child Migrants Trust.

Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry
Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry

“The redress payment should not just have been for policy failures but for the consequences of abuse. Some by the institutions where child migrants were settled. But most of all by the institutions from which they were dispatched.

“The fact that the remit of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry extends beyond sexual abuse, to psychological, emotional and other forms of abuse, may encourage you to make concrete recommendations about extending the redress payments.

“The redress scheme should certainly not have justified any reduction in it, or limit time to support for the Child Migrant Trust and for the travel scheme. Indeed I understand that more than 80 child migrants have requested travel support for reunion following the end of the family repatriation fund.

“Although I do not know the figures of requests from Scottish child migrants, I think that your inquiry maybe should comment on the need to extend the duration of the travel scheme.”

His submission was the final piece of evidence in the latest inquiry phase examining child migration programmes, ahead of closing statements for that phase being heard on October 20.

The inquiry’s first public hearings took place in 2017 and the following year Deputy First Minister John Swinney removed the requirement for it to conclude within four years, changing this to “as soon as reasonably practicable” to ensure it can fulfil its wide remit and survivors’ voices are heard.

It is being heard before Lady Smith.