Child Abuse — Statement

– in the House of Lords at 5:43 pm on 7th July 2014.

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Photo of Lord Taylor of Holbeach Lord Taylor of Holbeach The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 5:43 pm, 7th July 2014

My Lords, with the leave of the House, I will now repeat a Statement made in the House of Commons earlier this afternoon by my right honourable friend Theresa May, the Home Secretary.

“With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a Statement about the sexual abuse of children, allegations that evidence of the sexual abuse of children was suppressed by people in positions of power, and the Government’s intended response.

In my Statement today I want to address two important public concerns: first, that in the 1980s the Home Office failed to act on allegations of child sex abuse; and, secondly, that public bodies and other important institutions have failed to take seriously their duty of care towards children. As I do so, I want to set three important principles. First, we will do everything we can to allow the full investigation of child abuse and the prosecution of its perpetrators, and we will do nothing to jeopardise those aims. Secondly, where possible, the Government will adopt a presumption of maximum transparency. Thirdly, we will make sure that wherever individuals and institutions have failed to protect children from harm, we will expose these failures and learn the lessons.

Concern that the Home Office failed to act on allegations of child abuse in the 1980s relates mainly to information provided to the department by the late Geoffrey Dickens, a Member of this House between 1979 and 1995. As the House will be aware, in February 2013, in response to a Parliamentary Question from the honourable Member for West Bromwich East, the Permanent Secretary of the Home Office, Mark Sedwill, commissioned an investigation by an independent expert into information the Home Office received in relation to child abuse allegations, including information provided by Mr Dickens. In order to be confident that the investigation would review all relevant information, the investigation reviewed all relevant papers available relating to child abuse between 1979 and 1999.

The investigation reported last year and its executive summary was published on 1 August 2013. It concluded there was no single ‘Dickens Dossier’ but there had been letters from Mr Dickens to several Home Secretaries over several years that contained allegations of sexual offences against children. Copies of the letters had not been kept, but the investigator found evidence that the information Mr Dickens had provided had been considered and matters requiring investigation had been referred to the police.

In total, the investigator found 13 items of information about alleged child abuse. The police already knew about nine of those items, and the remaining four were passed by the Home Office to the police immediately. The investigation found that 114 potentially relevant files were not available. These are presumed—by the Home Office and the investigator—destroyed, missing or not found, although the investigator made clear that he found no evidence to suggest that the files had been removed or destroyed inappropriately. The investigation found no record of specific allegations by Mr Dickens of child sex abuse by prominent public figures.

Upon completion of the investigation, the Home Office passed the full text of its interim report and final report, along with accompanying information and material, to the police for them to consider as part of their ongoing criminal investigations. As Mark Sedwill has said, the investigator recorded that he had unrestricted access to Home Office records and he received full co-operation from Home Office officials. The investigator was satisfied that the Home Office passed all credible information about child abuse in the time period—from Mr Dickens and elsewhere—to the police so they could be investigated properly.

I believe that the Permanent Secretary did the right things in listening to the allegations made by the honourable Member for West Bromwich East and ordering an independent investigation. I am confident that the work he commissioned was carried out in good faith. But I know that, with allegations as serious as these, the public needs to have complete confidence in the integrity of the investigation’s findings.

So I can tell the House that I have today appointed Peter Wanless, the chief executive of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, to lead a review not just of the investigation commissioned by Mark Sedwill but also of how the police and prosecutors handled any related information that was handed to them. Peter Wanless will be supported in his work by an appropriate senior legal figure, who will be appointed by the Permanent Secretary. Where the findings of the review relate to the Director of Public Prosecutions, it will report to the Attorney-General as well as to me.

I will ask the review team to advise my officials on what redactions to the full investigation report might be needed in order that, in the interests of transparency, it can be published without jeopardising any future criminal investigations or trials. I expect the review to conclude within eight to 10 weeks, and I will place a copy of its terms of reference in the House Library today.

In addition to the allegations made by Geoffrey Dickens, there have also been allegations relating to an organisation called the Paedophile Information Exchange, a paedophile campaign group that was disbanded in 1984. In response to another query from the honourable Member for West Bromwich East, the Permanent Secretary commissioned another independent investigation in January this year into whether the Home Office had ever directly or indirectly funded PIE. That investigation concluded that the Home Office had not done so, and I will place a copy of the investigation’s findings in the House Library today. But, again, in order to ensure complete public confidence in this work, I have also asked Peter Wanless to look at this investigation as part of his review.

I now turn to public concern that a variety of public bodies and other important institutions have failed to take seriously their duty of care towards children. In recent years, we have seen appalling cases of organised and persistent child sex abuse. This includes abuse by celebrities, such as Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris, as well as the systematic abuse of vulnerable girls in Derby, Rochdale, Oxford, and other towns and cities. Some of these cases have exposed a failure by public bodies to take their duty of care seriously, and some have shown that the organisations responsible for protecting children from abuse, including the police, social services and schools have failed to work together properly.

That is why, in April 2013, the Government established the national group to tackle sexual violence against children and vulnerable people, which is led by my honourable friend the Minister for Crime Prevention. This cross-government group was established to learn the lessons from some of the cases that I have mentioned and the resulting reviews and inquiries. As a result of its work, we now have better guidance for the police and prosecutors, new powers for the police to get information from hotels that are used for child sexual exploitation, and better identification of children at risk of exploitation through the use of local multiagency safeguarding hubs. In the normal course of its work the group will publish further proposals to protect children from abuse.

I know that in recent months many Members of the House, from all parties, have campaigned for an independent, overarching inquiry into historical allegations of child abuse. In my correspondence with the seven Members of Parliament who wrote to me about the campaign—the honourable Members for Birmingham Yardley, Brighton Pavilion, East Worthing and Shoreham, Richmond Park, Rochdale, Wells, and West Bromwich East—I made clear that the Government did not rule out such an inquiry.

I can now tell the House that the Government will establish an independent inquiry panel of experts in the law and child protection to consider whether public bodies and other non-state institutions have taken seriously their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse. The inquiry panel will be chaired by an appropriately senior and experienced figure. It will begin its work as soon as possible after the appointment of the chairman and other members of the panel. Given the scope of its work, it is not likely to report before the general election, but I will make sure that it provides an update on its progress to Parliament before May next year. I will report back to the House when the inquiry panel chairman has been appointed and the full terms of reference have been agreed.

It will, like the inquiries into Hillsborough and the murder of Daniel Morgan, be a non-statutory panel inquiry. This means that it can begin its work sooner; and because the basis of its early work will be a review of documentary evidence rather than interviews with witnesses who might themselves still be subject to criminal investigations, it will be less likely to prejudice those investigations. But I want to be clear that the inquiry panel will have access to all the government papers, reviews and reports that it needs. Subject to the constraints imposed by any criminal investigations, it will be free to call witnesses from organisations in the public sector, private sector and wider civil society. I want to make it clear that if the inquiry panel chairman deems it necessary, the Government are prepared to convert it into a full public inquiry in line with the Inquiries Act.

I began my Statement by saying that I wanted to address the dual concern that in the past the Home Office failed to act on information it received and, more broadly, that public bodies and other institutions have failed to protect children from sexual abuse. I believe that the measures that I have announced today address those concerns. I also said that I wanted the work we are doing to reflect three principles: that our priority must be the prosecution of the people behind these disgusting crimes; that wherever possible and consistent with the need to prosecute, we will adopt a presumption of maximum transparency; and that where there has been a failure to protect children from abuse, we will expose it and learn from it. I believe that the measures announced today reflect those important principles, and I commend this Statement to the House”.

My Lords, that concludes the Statement.

Photo of Baroness Smith of Basildon Baroness Smith of Basildon Opposition Deputy Chief Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 5:57 pm, 7th July 2014

My Lords, I thank the Minister for repeating the Home Secretary’s Statement, which we welcome. There is a lot at stake today. Child abuse, particularly child sexual abuse, is an abhorrent crime that devastates its victims. There has been mounting distress and revulsion at the avalanche of allegations, arrests, charges and convictions that we have seen to date. The clear evidence is that abused children have had their pleas for help and reports of crimes dismissed. The fact that no action was taken must be fully investigated. Even when the abuse is historic, the trauma continues into the future. The truth may be painful and distressing, but nothing less will do.

We have rightly been angered and we have demanded action when there has been evidence of abuse and potential cover-ups. That has now been brought to the Government. It is truly shocking, as the Minister said, that allegations are being made that the Home Office not only failed to investigate evidence that was brought to it, but that crucial documents were lost and others may have been destroyed. The Minister will, I am sure, understand the concerns already expressed of a deliberate attempt to cover up crimes and to protect perpetrators.

The 2013 review that has now come to light was clearly inadequate. It was not announced to Parliament and it was not revealed that more than 100 related files had gone missing. The Minister will recall from previous debates that we called for a much wider, overarching inquiry. Indeed, I raised this with Ministers in your Lordships’ House on both 6 November and 14 November 2012 in debates on child abuse. At that time Ministers rejected those calls, but today’s announcement is a step further towards that and we welcome it.

I would like some clarification on the new process, both of the review and of the inquiry panel. Both have to be thorough investigations. Peter Wanless is highly regarded and, alongside his personal integrity and expertise, he brings the reputation and trust of the NSPCC. Nothing matters more now than reaching the truth, because only through the truth can we achieve justice and support for victims and provide stronger and better child protection now and for the future. I want to ask the Minister a few questions. What legal expertise and support will be provided to Mr Wanless? He will no doubt want to talk to those who have been victims themselves, so will professional support be made available when he does so? There have been reports that police officers have felt unable to provide information as they had signed gagging clauses. Will the Wanless—the Minister calls it a review—inquiry be able to override any such clause where criminality is suspected? Will the inquiry be able to obtain information from individual civil servants, whether in work or retired, and from any government agency or its employees? What powers will the Wanless inquiry have to compel witnesses to provide evidence? Will it be given access to any and all papers, notes and minutes of meetings from government and government agencies? The inquiry cannot just be given the information that it asks for; it needs to have the freedom to investigate and to search for information that it might not yet know is available.

The Minister will understand the serious concerns regarding the apparent mystery of the disappearing Dickens file or files that were handed to the then Home Secretary. What records and notes were kept of those initial meetings? Was the 2013 review able to identify whether any investigation or action followed from those meetings? Can the Minister confirm whether the Home Secretary has been advised of the identities of the private office staff and senior civil servants who were aware of the documentation and asked to review its contents and whether they were involved in the 2013 review? Can he confirm that they will be asked to co-operate with the Wanless inquiry? Will that 2013 review—inadequate as I think it is recognised now that it was—be published? When were the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister told that the files were missing or destroyed? Finally, can the Minister confirm that there will be no hiding place from justice for those who have committed child sex abuse crimes or have been involved in destroying or hiding evidence? Will a further Statement be made on the terms and references of the inquiry panel once the appointments are in place? At this stage there are more questions than answers and I hope that the Minister will agree to keep Parliament informed as this process proceeds.

Action has to be taken to deal with the past, but equally important are the lessons that we learn for the future. The Minister will know our concerns about the Government’s changes to the vetting and barring system. The system is designed to protect children, but we believe that the Government have weakened it. Is he aware that the number of people barred from working with children as a result of committing sexual offences against children has fallen by 75% in the past three years? Can the Minister assure me that the Government will, in the light of increasing evidence that perpetrators of child sex abuse have evaded justice for many years, reconsider the changes that they have made to this legislation?

We welcome the two investigations. I hope that, given the importance of the issues, the Minster will be able to answer my questions today, but if he is unable to do so I hope that he can write with answers to those specific points.

Photo of Lord Taylor of Holbeach Lord Taylor of Holbeach The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 6:03 pm, 7th July 2014

I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Smith, for her comments and indeed her support. I suspect that the whole House will be pleased to have heard the Statement made by the Home Secretary today and will recognise that it is a determined attempt to find out what lies at the bottom of the issues that the inquiries and the reviews will be addressing. I hope that noble Lords will be reassured by the comments in the Statement about the review made almost immediately on the Permanent Secretary’s arrival in the Home Office.

I disagree with the noble Baroness. I do not think that the review was inadequate. It was a very important inquiry. It has shown us some truths about where we are within the Home Office on that issue. It has also given us encouragement to set up a further review that goes across all the reviews across government. Perhaps I should concentrate on the questions that the noble Baroness asked me in that regard. She asked whether Peter Wanless—he is a superb choice for the job and I am very pleased that he has agreed to take it on—will have professional support. He will have high-quality legal support in the work that he is given. He will have a team that will enable him to get to the bottom of this. This is not going to be a half-baked job. It is going to be a thorough job delivering within eight to 10 weeks, we hope, a review of the situation.

As I said in the Statement, there will be total access to Home Office papers and staff and to government agencies to enable Peter Wanless to get a thorough view of the situation. It is not the inquiry; it is a review of where we are and what we know already. The inquiry is another thing, which I will perhaps come on to. As I said, we will be able to see all documents. The terms of reference will be placed in the House Library so that noble Lords can see them.

I think that it is important to see the Wanless review in connection with the inquiry, which is a much more far-reaching affair, designed to discover the extent to which government and non-government departments, the police and other authorities have failed in their task of protecting children and why this has happened. I hope that the noble Baroness will understand that that may well be a much longer process, but there is a commitment to come back to this House before the election with a Statement as to where we are on that issue. The noble Baroness will know that I will always co-operate in trying to provide information to the House on any subject of this nature. I have not been able to answer some of the inquiries that the noble Baroness made, but I am very happy to do so and will make sure that a copy of the answers is placed in the Library for other noble Lords to see.

Photo of Lord Fowler Lord Fowler Conservative 6:07 pm, 7th July 2014

My Lords, I am sure that the whole House will welcome the reviews, not least because, I suspect, questions on the destruction of files go much wider than the Home Office. My experience of three government departments is that Ministers are never consulted in or out of office on such destruction. My suspicion is that decisions on destruction are taken at a fairly junior level and that at times the whole system can be fairly chaotic. May I ask my noble friend whether one of the aims will be to ensure that we have a system that is fit for purpose and applies to all departments in Whitehall and where decisions on destruction are taken at an appropriately senior level?

Photo of Lord Taylor of Holbeach Lord Taylor of Holbeach The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

I agree with my noble friend. I know that he speaks from considerable experience of government in this respect. There are in fact guidelines in place. New guidelines were brought in in the late 1990s to deal with the destruction of files. I imagine that one of the outcomes of all this business will be to determine how come 114 files are missing. At this stage we do not know whether the files are significant. Mark Sedwill was of the view that they were not. I think that the House would be entitled to ask what the titles of the files were. We do not know what they were. My noble friend is quite right to draw attention to the fact that we will learn lessons here that could well be important in other aspects of government. Tragic and uncalled-for events teach us lessons about how we deal with things in the future. I hope that we learn from this episode.

Photo of The Bishop of Truro The Bishop of Truro Bishop

My Lords, I welcome the Statement. The church is keen to be involved in any such overarching inquiry. A question was asked in the other place about whether the church is involved in this matter. Is the Minister aware that my friend the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury wrote to the Home Secretary some weeks ago asking for an inquiry such as this? The church is very willing to be involved. In a situation such as this—in which, inevitably and sadly, people involved in various authorities at a high level would be related to other authorities and institutions—it is crucial that such an inquiry is allowed to go wherever it needs to go. The church and other organisations and institutions should explicitly be involved in this matter. Perhaps I may add as chairman of the Children’s Society that we would be keen to stress that the voice of children and young people should be always in the centre of one’s thoughts on any matters such as this. If any matters come to light through this inquiry that need to be directed to the police, that will, one hopes, happen and they will be dealt with swiftly and decisively.

Photo of Lord Taylor of Holbeach Lord Taylor of Holbeach The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

I pay tribute to the role of the church in the care of children. I am sure that the Home Secretary will note the offer of involvement in the review and these inquiries. I am delighted that the right reverend Prelate has raised this issue. The involvement of church activists in the national group to tackle sexual violence against children and vulnerable people is an important start.

Photo of Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Labour

My Lords, by far the most harrowing constituency surgery meetings I ever attended were those where representations were received from victims of historic child abuse. People were haunted by that abuse 40 or 50 years later. One of the most difficult days I had as First Minister of Scotland was when I had to issue from the Chamber of the Scottish Parliament a formal apology to those victims on behalf of the Government and people of Scotland. However, there is still no independent inquiry into historic child abuse in Scotland. I warmly welcome what the Government have announced today which, I presume, at this stage covers England and Wales. Victims and perpetrators will have crossed borders over the past decades. What discussions could take place to ensure that any review at this stage or future inquiry will cover those victims and perpetrators across the whole UK?

Photo of Lord Taylor of Holbeach Lord Taylor of Holbeach The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

We know that these are devolved matters in some areas. As the former leader of the Scottish Parliament, the noble Lord will know that Scotland is affected as much of the United Kingdom has been by these matters. We have inquiries going on in Northern Ireland and north Wales. In so far as it is not a devolved matter, the inquiry will indeed embrace the entire United Kingdom, but it is about England initially. However, I am sure that we can all learn from each other’s experiences. If there is a willingness to accept, across the United Kingdom, that information should be exchanged between the Governments and Assemblies in other parts of the United Kingdom and the inquiry, I am sure that that will be made clear.

I say to the noble Baroness, Lady Smith, that I have received a comment about gagging and whether people will be prevented because they have signed a commitment not to talk about matters. I make it clear that this is to be a wide-ranging review. It will have access to all papers and reports, as I have said, and, subject to the constraints of criminal investigations, it will be free to call witnesses. We have made it clear that if the inquiry panel deems it necessary, the Government are prepared to convert it into a free inquiry. It will have considerable powers.

Photo of Baroness Walmsley Baroness Walmsley Liberal Democrat

My Lords, I welcome the Statement, particularly the independent inquiry. Indeed, I added my voice to those who were calling for such an inquiry during my debate in your Lordships’ House on 26 June.

There is no reason why such an inquiry should in any way interfere with the work of the police as long as the panel has available to it people from the police and the prosecuting authorities who know what is going on and which inquiries are actually under way. I ask my noble friend whether such people with up-to-date knowledge of what is being looked into and may be looked into in the future will be attached to the panel so that it can avoid straying into areas that might prevent perpetrators being prosecuted in the future. That is very important.

I ask my friend whether the inquiry will focus more on learning lessons than pointing fingers. It is the role of the police and the prosecuting authorities to point fingers and to bring perpetrators to justice, but they are not in the position, as the panel will be, to learn overall lessons. I echo what the noble Baroness, Lady Smith of Basildon, said about victims. They need to be at the heart of this. We need to be sure that they can be heard and will have support in order to be heard.

Finally, what will be the scope of the recommendations that the panel will be able to make? Clearly, it will be making recommendations on changes of practice. Will it also be able to make recommendations on changes in legislation? What will be the procedure for the Government to respond to those recommendations in the fullness of time?

Photo of Lord Taylor of Holbeach Lord Taylor of Holbeach The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

I will start on that final point. There will be no limit on what the inquiry will be able to tell us all about what it finds. That is the whole point of it. My noble friend assumed too much when she said that it would not be pointing fingers. I think it will point fingers, and it should do so if it feels that areas of government have failed, either now or in the past. The panel needs to be able to tell us that, and it is right and proper that it should do so.

Of course it is important that people who have been subjected to child abuse feel that this inquiry is about what has happened to them. However, the principal thing that I would urge them to do is to go and tell the police what has happened to them. It is for the police to bring justice to these incidents. We are trying here to learn the mechanisms whereby we can have that framework and whether that is possible or easy to do.

My noble friend asked about the constitution of the panel. I cannot give information on that. No doubt the panel will be constructed to provide the right sort of expertise. We do not want the panel to be so inhibited by the situation regarding criminal prosecutions that it fails to do its work properly. It will have a proper legal basis for making inquiries so that prosecutions, if necessary, can follow from what it discovers.

Photo of Lord Harris of Haringey Lord Harris of Haringey Labour

My Lords, the two inquiries that the Home Secretary has announced are of course welcome. Does the Minister recognise that an eight-week review into an existing review into whether the Home Office handled things properly and a more wide-ranging inquiry into whether public and other bodies have carried out their duty of care will not address the central, corrosive concern that is all over today’s newspapers, which is that it is not just about celebrities who have managed to get away with child abuse over many decades, but about people in power—Members of your Lordships’ House, Members of the other place and former Members of the other place? How will these processes address and restore the confidence that people in power are not being allowed to get away with things?

Photo of Lord Taylor of Holbeach Lord Taylor of Holbeach The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

The inquiry will be entirely independent and able to make whatever recommendations it makes without fear or favour. I would not be supportive, and I do not think this House would be, of anything that smacked of a cover up. This is about finding the truth and making the truth evident. If people have done wrong in the past, that will be revealed by the inquiry. The review is designed to check that all aspects of the review conducted by Mark Sedwill, in the first instance, and the review into the Paedophile Information Exchange were properly conducted and whether there were any failures in the Home Office. I should say that the inquiry that Mark Sedwill set up found no evidence of wrongdoing by prominent figures. However, that is not to say that it will not be discovered; that is a matter for the inquiry to find out when it comes to it.

Photo of Lord Deben Lord Deben Conservative

Does my noble friend accept that he has had huge support from every side of the House for what is a really important decision by the Home Secretary? Does he also accept that the whole House would want to thank Mr Wanless for taking on what will be an extremely unpleasant job? That is true of anyone who is going to take part in the inquiry and we ought to appreciate that. I hope he will also accept that anyone with information of any kind is duty bound to give that information in whichever of these arrangements is appropriate. Does he further accept that those without information are also duty bound not to talk to the public in ways which suggest that they seem to have, or pretend to have, or sometimes claim to have information which they do not have? The issue here is too serious for it to be a matter of innuendo. This is a matter of finding the truth. Those who have information should give it; those who do not should shut up.

Photo of Lord Taylor of Holbeach Lord Taylor of Holbeach The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

I agree with that, but I think we are right to have embarked on this difficult exercise. I think nothing less would satisfy public opinion. We need to get to the bottom of what is going on. We need to be satisfied in ourselves that we have done all we can do to make sure that child abuse does not flourish in any institutions with which we are associated. I agree totally with what my noble friend has just said, but I think the Home Secretary has provided us with the opportunity to get to the bottom of it all.

Photo of Lord Warner Lord Warner Labour

My Lords, although I welcome this inquiry, I ask the Minister to take back to the Home Office the issue of children’s homes. I carried out an inquiry for the noble Baroness, Lady Bottomley, when she was Health Secretary. Children’s homes have often been a pivotal point for vulnerable children being exploited by people in authority and power. The inquiry will be a good opportunity to explore this area very seriously as we know from previous inquiries that this has been a source of children who can be abused. We need to make sure that things are improving and are now a lot better than they were in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Photo of Lord Taylor of Holbeach Lord Taylor of Holbeach The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

I am sure that this matter will be considered by the inquiry. I have no doubt that one of the most unpleasant things about child abuse is that it is often the most vulnerable who are subjected to it.

Photo of Lord Steel of Aikwood Lord Steel of Aikwood Liberal Democrat

My Lords, I too welcome this Statement by the Home Secretary and thank the Minister for repeating it here. One of the names mentioned regularly in the press in recent days is that of the late Cyril Smith MP. Can I assure the Minister that no complaint—or even rumour—of misbehaviour on his part when a Member of the House of Commons ever reached the Liberal Party? If, indeed, he was one of those named in the 1980s by Geoffrey Dickens MP, I find it odd that he never relayed that information to the Liberal Party. However, what is important is that the short, sharp Wanless review must reassure the public that, if politicians were guilty of molesting children, they will be revealed just like anybody else and there will be no cover up.

Photo of Lord Taylor of Holbeach Lord Taylor of Holbeach The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

I obviously will not talk about any individual cases and I hope that noble Lords will understand why I will not do so. The whole point of the exercise is that there should be no hiding place.

Photo of Lord Clinton-Davis Lord Clinton-Davis Labour

If any doubt affecting complete public confidence arises in the future, will Parliament be informed immediately? That is most important.

Photo of Lord Taylor of Holbeach Lord Taylor of Holbeach The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

I think I can take it from the sentiments of the House and from the support that the Home Secretary’s Statement received in this House that if I felt the House needed to be informed I would not hesitate to seek the opportunity to do so.

Photo of Lord True Lord True Conservative

My Lords, I speak as leader of a local authority which has premises which have been the continuing subject of police investigations, with which, obviously, the authority is co-operating and has co-operated. I welcome the Statement and agree with many of the things that have been said in this House. Fundamentally, my noble friend has said that the police investigations will not be prejudiced. At one point he said that they were less likely to be prejudiced. Can we be assured that the investigations in train will not lack for resources at any point and will not be suspended and will be pursued relentlessly in every case where they are currently underway? People want to see perpetrators brought to justice.