John Swinney is to remove a three year time bar which constrains the ability of child abuse victims to seek civil damages in court.
The Deputy First Minister published legislation to get rid of the time bar, which requires those who want to raise a personal injury action for damages to do so within three years of the date on which the injuries were sustained.
The current law means that child abuse survivors are usually required to raise civil action by the date of their 19th birthday – three years after they reach the age of 16.
Survivors have campaigned for the removal of the time bar while the Scottish Government has been working on its inquiry into historical abuse, chaired by Lady Smith.
The bar will be abolished under the forthcoming Limitation (Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) Bill, which will be the Scottish Government’s first piece of legislation of the 2016/17 parliamentary year.
In a statement to Holyrood, Mr Swinney also announced that the inquiry’s scope will be extended to include the abuse of children in care wherever that occurred.
It will, however, not be extended to included all allegations of abuse in non-residential settings – a decision that will be criticised by some survivors’ groups.
Mr Swinney said: “The Government’s intention has always been that the abuse of children and young people in care is to be taken into account wherever it occurred and I want to put that matter beyond doubt. As required, I have consulted the inquiry chair Lady Smith and amended the terms of reference to clarify this point. That is the only change I intend to make to the inquiry remit.”
Mr Swinney indicated that extending the investigation to include all abuse allegations in non-residential settings would mean the inquiry taking “many more years to conclude”.