Cleveland Child Abuse Inquiry

Oral Answers to Questions — Social Services – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th July 1988.

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Photo of Mr Tony Newton Mr Tony Newton , Braintree

The total cost to central Government of the inquiry into child abuse in Cleveland in 1987 is likely to be around £1·5 million. This includes payments of £300,000 each to the Cleveland county council and to the Northern regional health authority as a contribution towards the costs of those authorities.

Photo of Hilary Armstrong Hilary Armstrong Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow Spokesperson

The Minister's reply demonstrates that good quality work is not cheap, and meeting the demands of the inquiry and its report will also not be cheap. Many of the authorities are worried that they will not be able to put the necessary resources into protecting children. Can we look forward to a statement from the Government that they will adequately fund local authorities to ensure that every child who is on a child abuse register is properly supervised, so that we may know that the proper resources to meet this frightening problem will be made available?

Photo of Mr Tony Newton Mr Tony Newton , Braintree

In my statement last Wednesday I said that we were putting additional targeted resources towards training, which is an essential prerequisite. The hon. Lady's question distracts attention—again, I apologise for repeating something that I said last Wednesday—from the fact that, although the Cleveland crisis caused pressure on resources in Cleveland, it does not follow that a lack of resources created the crisis.

Photo of Mr Richard Holt Mr Richard Holt , Langbaurgh

Does my right hon. Friend accept that when we talk of the Cleveland child sex abuse problem we make a mistake, and that it should be south Cleveland? There was no abnormality of numbers in north Cleveland. The abnormality was generated in the area where two stupid doctors used a discredited system to try to enhance their empires. There is absolutely no reason why the Government should put extra funding into that region for that purpose. The Cleveland child sex abuse problem occurred as a result of bad direction by the doctors and bad management by those charged with the responsibility of looking after the children.

Photo of Mr Tony Newton Mr Tony Newton , Braintree

I note my hon. Friend's remarks. I have no doubt that they will be taken into account by the Cleveland authorities when considering their response to the report.

Photo of Miss Joan Lestor Miss Joan Lestor , Eccles

Like many hon. Members last week, I am disappointed that the three-year training proposal will not be implemented. I recognise that some resources should go into the area of child abuse, but what steps has the Minister taken to include teachers in that training? It is clear to many people who have studied the Cleveland report, and child abuse generally, that there is a great deal to be gained from training teachers to identify children who are suffering and are at risk.

Photo of Mr Tony Newton Mr Tony Newton , Braintree

The grants that I announced last week were principally directed at social workers, but my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science has issued a circular to the education service. I am conscious of the fact that there are training needs elsewhere, which I will discuss with my right hon. and hon. Friends.

Photo of Michael Lord Michael Lord , Suffolk Central

Recent tragic events in my constituency have highlighted the fact that some small private children's homes still do not have to be registered or inspected regularly. Bearing in mind everyone's grave concern about the welfare of all our children, and especially those vulnerable children in care, will my right hon. Friend undertake to examine this matter with the greatest possible urgency, with a view to introducing the necessary legislation as quickly as possible?

Photo of Mr Tony Newton Mr Tony Newton , Braintree

Yes; I will consider that matter with a view to ascertaining the most appropriate action.

Photo of Tom Clarke Tom Clarke Shadow Minister (Disability)

If it is not a lack of resources that is causing the problem in training, what is it? Why has the Minister not explained why he has not accepted the recommendation of the Central Council for Education and Training in Social Work? Is there not a difference betwen £7 million and £40 million, and why should this be the only country in Europe to have a two-year training programme?

Photo of Mr Tony Newton Mr Tony Newton , Braintree

I have explained several times the importance of improving the training, among other things, of existing social workers in that area. I did not regard the CCETSW proposals as the best way to spend that money. We hope to make a number of important improvements in the training of existing as well as future social workers. The right course is a balanced package of that sort.