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ContactPoint

Volume 497: debated on Monday 12 October 2009

2. What recent progress has been made on the roll-out of the ContactPoint database; and if he will make a statement. (292193)

Significant progress has been made on ContactPoint. We are receiving promising feedback from early adopter areas about how ContactPoint is helping people who work with children to identify problems and prevent them from escalating. From late October, local authorities can start training ContactPoint users across England.

I thank the Minister for that reply but, given the Government’s record on data protection, does he not see that ContactPoint risks information on millions of children falling into the wrong hands, fails to protect those children and should be scrapped?

Instead of reading the scare stories in the papers, the hon. Lady should get off her high horse and talk to some of the early adopters who are using the system already. Let me quote one of them to her. A consultant paediatrician working with children at the Countess of Chester hospital in Chester said:

“ContactPoint was a very easy tool to use. It allowed me to rapidly access relevant information about a child in who there was suspected non-accidental injury. This information was invaluable in guiding further management and the whole process took less than five minutes whereas previously a lot of time would have been spent making phone calls and trying to track people down for information.”

The hon. Lady should talk to the people who are using ContactPoint.

I could quote to the Minister several consultant paediatricians who think that their job of dealing with child protection will be compromised by the use of ContactPoint. Will the Minister therefore confirm how many people have applied to have their children’s details shielded on ContactPoint and how many of them are Ministers—including himself, perhaps? If he is completely happy with the security arrangements surrounding ContactPoint, will he now undertake to publish in full the data security review on ContactPoint carried out by Deloittes, which he has declined to publish since February last year?

I look forward to hearing the names of the consultants who, according to the hon. Gentleman, say that ContactPoint will threaten children’s safety. There was a time when the Conservative party, having appropriately opposed a policy going through the House, would not then write to local Tory councillors deliberately to undermine its implementation. This shows why the Tories are not fit to govern.