Safeguarding Children

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:06 pm on 19th January 2006.

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Photo of Lord Adonis Lord Adonis Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Schools), Department for Education and Skills, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education and Skills) (Schools) 3:06 pm, 19th January 2006

My Lords, as I said in the Statement, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State is writing to all local authorities today, setting up arrangements that will apply from now onwards and will enable local authorities to put in place immediately any changes needed to their own practices. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary is writing to all police authorities today, too. I hope that will enable a quite rapid dissemination of the elements of these new arrangements to all local authorities and for any improvements that are needed to take place pretty well immediately.

I want to comment on the point made by noble friend about the importance of measured judgments in this matter. When the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, repeated the remarks of her colleagues in the other place, I thought she asked why it had taken so long for this information to be made available to the House. We have spent 10 days trawling through 4,000 or more files of all cases, concerning not only those where Ministers took a decision but those where any official took a decision, or where there was any other factor to do with police information or anything that might be ascertained by going through the relevant information. I do not believe that, given the scale of the task at hand, 10 days was an excessive period. I believe that we would have been criticised in Parliament if we had done this job more hastily and come back with a less complete picture.