Miners' Strike pardons confirmed – meaning criminal convictions can be wiped

A Bill aimed at pardoning some miners of convictions during strikes in the 1980s has passed the Scottish Parliament

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The Miners’ Strike (Pardons) (Scotland) Bill will see the convictions of those found guilty of breaches of the peace, obstruction of the police, or a breach of bail conditions during the strike of 1984-85 wiped.

Due to convictions, many miners who subsequently lost their jobs after pits closed in Scotland lost out on redundancy and pension payments.

Scottish justice secretary Keith Brown said the “landmark” legislation will go some way to aid reconciliation.

The Miners' Strike was a pivotal event of the 1980s
The Miners' Strike was a pivotal event of the 1980s
Arthur Scargill, who was President of the National Union of Mineworkers
Arthur Scargill, who was President of the National Union of Mineworkers

But Labour MSP Richard Leonard lodged an amendment which would instruct ministers to carry out a review of compensation options, and publish a report on the review within a year of the Bill receiving Royal Assent.

The amendment fell by 24 votes to 92.

The Bill passed unanimously, with support from all 117 MSPs who voted.

Mr Brown has said the UK Government should consider launching an inquiry into the Miners’ Strike and a possible compensation scheme for those convicted of crimes throughout the 1984-85 dispute.

“The Miners’ Strike was one of the most bitter and divisive industrial disputes in living memory,” Mr Brown said.

Speaking in favour of the amendment, Mr Leonard said: “The excuses for opposing this over the past few months have been manifold – they have been that employment law and industrial relations are not devolved, or that this parliament did not exist in 1984, or that this parliament is not competent, or that time is of the essence.

“But I will say this – if it is competent for this parliament to pardon the miners for what happened in 1984-85 it must be competent for this parliament to compensate the miners for what happened in 1984-85.”

Scottish Labour MSP Pam Duncan-Glancy said the Bill would send a message to workers.

She said: “You have power and we stand with you.

“An attack on one is an attack on us all – we must always be on the side of workers.

“The Scottish Labour Party has always been and always will be on their side.”

Imploring fellow MSPs to pass the Bill, Mr Brown said: “For now, we must take the opportunity to recognise the circumstances that led to so many convictions and to say that as a parliament and as a country we want to pardon those convictions and bring some comfort and reconciliation to those involved.”