Child Abuse (North Wales)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:31 pm on 17th June 1996.

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Photo of Mr Alex Carlile Mr Alex Carlile , Montgomery 3:31 pm, 17th June 1996

I echo the congratulations to the hon. Member for Chislehurst (Sir R. Sims).

I welcome the appointment of Sir Ronald Waterhouse as chairman of the judicial inquiry. His wide experience, and his close knowledge of north Wales, will prove to be great advantages. Will the Secretary of State confirm that, in carrying out the inquiry, Sir Ronald will be free to make recommendations about the way in which, and the resources with which, the police investigate allegations of child abuse, particularly in smaller police forces such as the North Wales police, in which, generally speaking, there are limited resources for special inquiries?

Can the Secretary of State also confirm that it will be possible for Sir Ronald to look at the nature of the institutions in which often vulnerable children are placed, as demonstrated by the evidence that emerges in the courts when prosecutions are started many years later? Can he also confirm that it will be possible for witnesses at the Waterhouse inquiry, many of whom are now adults leading ordinary lives, many of them married with children, to have anonymity in terms of public identification?