Before I respond to noble Lords’ excellent and moving speeches, in the interests of transparency I would like the House to note that in the past I met, in her capacity as an inspector at HMIC, one of the panel members of the IICSA before she joined the panel. In the past I have also met professionally two of the members of the Victims and Survivors’ Consultative Panel. On a personal level, many members of my husband’s family and one of our children went to Downside School, which has obviously been subject to one of the strands of the inquiry.
I start by thanking all noble Lords for their contributions. I will do my best to address the points that they have articulated so passionately throughout the debate but, before doing so, I hope they will find it helpful if I recap on the scope, role and progress of the inquiry and then focus in more detail on the subject of the noble Lord’s Motion.
Some serious questions were raised by a number of noble Lords about the approach of the inquiry, including suggestions that there was a presumption of guilt and the need for cross-examination. I remind your Lordships that the primary purpose of the inquiry is to establish the facts, and therefore it should be inquisitorial rather than adversarial in nature. I understand that that is in line with the findings of the 2014 House of Lords Select Committee’s post-legislative scrutiny of the Inquiries Act 2005, which concluded that,
“an inquisitorial procedure for inquiries is greatly to be preferred to an adversarial procedure”.
It concluded that the Inquiries Act 2005 provides the right procedural framework for an inquiry to be conducted,
“efficiently, effectively and above all fairly”.