Previous governments failed to halt ‘abusive’ child migration, inquiry finds

Lady Smithis chairwoman of the inquiry (Nick Mailer/PA)
Lady Smithis chairwoman of the inquiry (Nick Mailer/PA)

UK governments must bear the blame for failing to halt “abusive” child migration schemes, an inquiry has found.

Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry chairwoman Lady Smith has published her second volume of findings on the historic migration of children from Scotland.

Her first volume, published in March, found the child migration system was “abusive” and resulted in “many children being abused”.

On Thursday, she said: “My findings in volume one alone show clearly that, however well-intentioned some of those who advocated for child migration may have been, the policy of child migration and the systems under which it operated were deeply flawed. The second volume of findings reinforces this view.

“What is particularly striking is the failure of successive UK governments to terminate the practice of child migration; these governments must bear the brunt of the blame for the continuation of child migration policies.

“Successive UK governments supported the practice. That support began with legislation that recognised the potential of child migration as a means of populating the Dominions. And pressure came from receiving countries, such as Australia, which badly wanted to increase its population with white ‘stock’.

“I reject without hesitation any notion that any conclusion that the policy was deeply flawed is the product of a view that distorts the past by viewing it through the lens of today. It is obvious that it was deeply flawed at the time.”

The latest volume focuses on the history of child migration, the policies, systems and legislation under which it operated, and the responses of various organisations to questions about their involvement in it.

From the latter part of the 19th century until well into the second half of the 20th century, many thousands of children were sent away from Scotland, mainly to Canada and Australia.

The UK Government has been contacted for comment.