With your permission, Mr Speaker, I will make a statement on the NHS investigations into Jimmy Savile.
This morning, a further 16 investigations into the activities of Savile in the NHS were published. Those include the main report from Stoke Mandeville hospital and reports from 15 other hospitals. One report relates to Johnny Savile, the older brother of Jimmy Savile.
Although no system can ever be totally secure from a manipulative and deceitful predator such as Savile, we learned last year that there were clear failings in the security, culture and processes of many NHS organisations, allowing terrible abuse to continue unchecked over many years.
Some victims are sadly no longer with us and others continue to suffer greatly as a result of what happened. I apologised to them last June on behalf of the Government, and today I repeat that apology: what happened was horrific, caused immeasurable and often permanent damage, and betrayed vulnerable people who trusted us to keep them safe. We let them down. As one of the Stoke Mandeville victims said:
“There are so many messed up lives—although people have built up lives, you have children, you make a life, it ruins everything, your relationships with another human being—the things you are supposed to have.”
Today, we must show by our deeds as well as our words that we have learned the necessary lessons.
The new reports, like those released last year, make extremely distressing reading. In total, 177 men and women have come forward with allegations of abuse by Jimmy Savile, covering a period beginning in 1954 and lasting until just before his death in 2011. At least 72 people who gave evidence were children at the time of the abuse, the youngest only five years old. The allegations include rape, assault, indecent assault and inappropriate comments or advances.
Allegations have been made not in one or two places, but in over 41 acute hospitals—almost a quarter of all NHS acute hospitals—as well as in five mental health trusts and two children’s hospitals. Further investigations have happened at a children’s convalescent home, an ambulance service and a hospice. Three new investigations are under way at Humber NHS Foundation Trust, Mersey Care NHS Trust and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. Any further allegations that are received will, of course, be investigated as serious incidents.
In addition, the Department for Education has today published 14 reports on investigations in children’s homes and educational settings, and the review by Dame Janet Smith into Savile’s activities at the BBC is ongoing.
The investigations have been deeply harrowing for the victims, but also for the investigators. I put on the record my thanks to everyone involved, particularly Kate Lampard and those at the NHS Savile Legacy Unit, who have provided robust oversight and assurance in an incredibly difficult job.
I now turn to Stoke Mandeville—the hospital with which Savile was most closely associated. The report published today reveals some shocking abuse of 60 victims that took place over more than 20 years between 1968 and 1992. From the brave victims who have come forward, we know that Savile’s activities there included groping, molestation and rape of patients, staff and visitors. The victims were predominantly, but not exclusively, female. Twenty of them were vulnerable patients who were disabled with severe spinal injuries. One was a child as young as eight. Savile deliberately exploited those people because he understood their reliance on specialist care that they might only be able to receive at Stoke Mandeville, making it even harder for them to speak up. It was calculating behaviour of the most abhorrent kind. Victims included 26 visitors and six staff. Six victims reported being raped, one as young as 11 or 12. Most victims were too frightened to come forward, but there were nine informal complaints and one made formally. None was taken seriously.
There is no suggestion that Ministers or officials knew about those activities, but accepted governance processes were not followed in the decision to allow Savile to acquire and maintain a position of authority at the hospital. In particular, Ministers made the expedient decision to use Savile not just to raise funds to redevelop Stoke Mandeville’s national spinal injuries centre but to oversee the building and running of the centre, even though he had no relevant experience. Because of his celebrity and useful fundraising skills, the right questions—the hard questions—simply were not asked. Suspicions were not acted on, and patients and staff were ignored. People were either too dazzled or too intimidated by the nation’s favourite celebrity to confront the evil predator we now know he was. Never again must the power of money or celebrity blind us to repeated, clear signals such as those that suggested that some extremely vulnerable people were being abused.
I spoke last June about how changes to processes, policies and laws over the past 30 years have made it much less likely that a predator like Savile would be able to perpetrate these crimes today. Charity legislation is much tougher and sets out specific requirements for the auditing and examination of NHS charities’ accounts. The safeguarding system now in place is significantly improved. The Children Act 1989, the first child sex offenders register, Criminal Records Bureau checks and the Disclosure and Barring Service have all provided further protection. The Care Act 2014 will put adult safeguarding on a legal footing for the first time from 1 April, and safeguarding adults boards will ensure that local safeguarding arrangements act to help and protect adults. We have enshrined the right to speak up in staff contracts, and we are amending the NHS constitution and changing the law to make employers responsible if whistleblowers are harassed or bullied by fellow employees. We are also consulting on how best to implement the recommendations in Sir Robert Francis’s whistleblowing review.
However, proper policies and processes will not succeed if they do not go hand in hand with a change in culture whereby patients and staff alike feel able to speak out with any concerns, and can be confident that they will be listened to. It is particularly important that children and those with physical and mental illnesses are listened to, because they are the most vulnerable. Although we are proud to live in a society in which people are innocent until proven guilty, we have a collective responsibility to investigate all serious allegations properly in a way that simply did not happen time after time.
In the light of these disturbing reports, I also asked Kate Lampard to outline key themes across all the NHS investigations and to consider any further action that needs to be taken. She considered the extent to which Savile was a product of the culture of his time and concluded that although he was “a one-off”, there are important improvements that need to be made to protect patients today. Hers is a thoughtful and comprehensive report, and I am today accepting in principle 13 recommendations that she makes, including on access, volunteering, safeguarding, complaints and governance. Trusts should develop policies on visits by celebrities, and on internet and social media access across hospitals. They should review voluntary service arrangements, safeguarding resources and the consistency of employment practices, ensuring clear executive responsibility. They should consider whether policies on the impact of volunteers on a trust’s reputation are adequate.
The Department, with its arm’s length bodies, will examine the possible development of a forum for NHS voluntary service managers, the raising of awareness of safeguarding referrals among NHS employers, and to what extent NHS trust staff and volunteers should undergo refresher training in safeguarding.
I know that some trusts that produced reports last summer have started to make improvements. One trust has already encouraged staff to raise concerns, updated its whistleblowing and complaints policy and published a policy on the recruiting and management of volunteers. It is that kind of sensible, swift action that I want to see across the NHS. I have therefore asked the chief executives of Monitor and the Trust Development Authority to ensure that all trusts review their current practice against the recommendations within three months, and then to write back to me with a summary of plans and progress at each trust. Those plans will be fed into the Government’s ongoing work to tackle child sexual exploitation.
One welcome practice that Kate Lampard’s report highlights is the growth in volunteering to support the work of the NHS. Overall across the NHS we estimate there are 78,000 volunteers, including 1,500 at just one trust—King’s—in London. They do a magnificent job in improving patient care every single day throughout the NHS. We welcome that civic revolution, and today need to ensure that any safeguards put in place support its future growth by helping to protect the reputation of volunteering as well as the safety of patients. Hard cases make bad law, and it would be the ultimate tragedy if Savile’s legacy was to hold back the work of the NHS’s true heroes who give so much to their local hospital by volunteering their time.
While I agree that all volunteers working in regulated activity—typically close or unsupervised contact with patients—should have an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check, I am not today accepting the recommendation that that should apply to all volunteers. As Kate Lampard acknowledges in her report, such a system may not in itself have stopped Savile. Instead, trusts should take a considered approach to checks on all volunteers, particularly using the enhanced DBS service if there is a possibility that someone will be asked at a future date to work closely with patients. They should also ensure that proper safeguarding procedures are in place locally, as well as the DBS process, because it would be wrong to rely on a national database as a substitute for local common sense and vigilance.
The report recommends that DBS checks are redone every three years. I believe the report is correct to say that trusts must ensure that their information on volunteers is up to date, but they can achieve that through asking volunteers to make use of the DBS update service that enables trusts to check DBS information regularly, and avoids volunteers having to go through the DBS process multiple times. We will be advising all trusts to do that.
Finally, I intend to take action in one area of great concern that the report highlights, namely the responsibility and accountability of staff working with vulnerable people to take appropriate action when alerted to potential abuse. As the report recognises, the Government have substantially strengthened safeguarding arrangements since these dreadful events, but it is clear that there should have been a much stronger incentive on staff and managers to pass on information so that a proper investigation took place. That is clearly unacceptable, and the Government have already said that we will consult on introducing a new requirement for the mandatory reporting of abuse of children and vulnerable adults. The outcome of such a consultation must take full account of the need to avoid unintended consequences.
Let me conclude with a tribute to the victims who have had the courage to come forward, because without them these investigations would not have been possible: it is our society’s shame that you were ignored for so long, but it is a tribute to your bravery that today we can take actions to prevent others from going through the misery you have endured. As a result, our NHS will be made safer for thousands of children and vulnerable adults as we learn the uncomfortable lessons from this terrible tragedy. I commend this statement to the House.
I thank the Secretary of State for his considered and thorough statement, and for his evident concern for the many lives that have been damaged by these vile acts and systemic failures. He was right to repeat his apology to Savile’s many victims and their families, and the whole House will support his decision to do so. I add my thanks to all those involved in compiling these reports, and particularly Kate Lampard and Ed Marsden for their “Lessons Learned” report. Through their diligent work, the full scale and horror of Savile’s sickening behaviour across the NHS has finally been laid bare. It beggars belief that abuse on this scale, known to so many people, was allowed to continue for so long. As the analysis of what happened becomes more complete and the full picture emerges, the question will grow in people’s minds: “Where is the accountability?” That is what victims are crying out for, and that is what must follow. It must be the single most important question occupying the Government in dealing with these matters, and it must continue to be a priority for the next Government and the next Parliament.
Much of what is revealed in the reports confirms what we already know about a pattern of criminal behaviour in hospitals where patients and victims were not listened to and staff felt unable or unwilling to challenge, but what changes with the Stoke Mandeville report is that it is now no longer possible to say that although the abuse was widespread, it was not known to people in senior positions. Nine verbal reports and one formal complaint were made, but none was acted upon. Why? The questions do not just extend to senior staff at the hospitals, and the Secretary of State was right to raise questions about the role of civil servants and former Ministers. To quote one of the main observations of the “Lessons Learned” report:
“As the investigations at Broadmoor and at Stoke Mandeville show, Savile’s involvement with those hospitals was supported and facilitated by Ministers or senior civil servants”.
We already knew that he was appointed by Edwina Currie to the taskforce that ran Broadmoor between 1988 and 1989, but today’s Stoke Mandeville report states:
“From 1980 Savile’s relationship with Stoke Mandeville Hospital underwent a significant change when he was appointed by Government Ministers…to fundraise for…the new National Spinal Injuries Centre”.
The “Lessons Learned” report concludes:
“In appointing Savile to these roles, and in allowing him the licence and free rein he had in exercising these roles, Ministers and/or civil servants either overrode or failed to observe accepted governance processes.”
That extremely serious finding needs to be acted upon.
I do not expect the Secretary of State today to answer these points in detail, and I welcome what he said in facing up to the findings, but does he agree that they point to the need for a more formal inquiry process involving senior people from that time—senior people in the hospitals concerned, senior people in the Department of Health and former Ministers? Knowing what we now know, we cannot simply leave this here. Victims must have accountability. That must be our shared goal across the House.
Alongside accountability, Savile’s victims need help. As the Secretary of State said, many lives have been damaged by what happened and will never recover. Nothing can be done to heal their pain, but there are things that could help them. In his last statement, he said that he would continue to explore the possibility of compensating victims using Savile’s estate to fund any claims. Will he update the House on that work? Is the value of Savile’s estate anywhere near enough to provide adequate compensation to his many victims? Has the Secretary of State made any judgment about whether public funding is needed to help compensate them? Today’s news will distress everyone directly affected. What steps are being taken to offer them counselling and other support?
Turning directly to the “Lessons Learned” report, while these appalling events come from a very different era, it would be a major mistake for the House or anybody reading the reports to think they have no relevance to today. To quote a chilling conclusion from the Lampard and Marsden report:
“The evidence we have gathered indicated that there are many elements of the Savile story that could be repeated in future.”
We know that a child cancer specialist from Addenbrooke’s was recently convicted for sexual offences against vulnerable boys as young as eight who were in his care.
Even though the world was very different in the 1970s and 1980s, it is impossible to read these reports without wondering how so many people could have known what was going on, yet felt they could not do anything about it. It must never again be the case that a member of staff should be made to feel unable to speak up for fear of “letting the hospital down”. They must feel fully supported at all times in reporting any act of abuse against anybody in the place in which they work. While we welcome the action the Secretary of State is taking to support NHS whistleblowers and strengthen their position, we cannot complacently think that this will be enough in these kinds of situations.
On Monday, the Government voted against the new legal requirement for those working in schools, hospitals and child care settings to report to the police child abuse in institutional settings. The purpose of such a requirement would be to make sure that no professional ever felt the protection of the reputation of the institution should take priority over the protection of a child or pursuing the truth. I listened carefully to what the Secretary of State said about this today. He said that there will now be a process of consultation on a proposed mandatory reporting duty. That is indeed a step forward, which I welcome. I understand why the Government would want to consult—because of the effect such a requirement could have on the working of an organisation. I want to push the right hon. Gentleman a little further and say that this consultation should not be open-ended, but a consultation leading to a firm commitment to legislate at the earliest opportunity—if not in this, in the next Parliament. I believe that that is the growing will of this House and I believe it will be the growing will of the next one.
On vetting and barring, the Secretary of State made some welcome proposals, and Kate Lampard has highlighted the need for a new focus on this area. There is a concern that changes to the vetting and barring scheme in this Parliament have significantly weakened its ability to protect children from convicted sex offenders. There is a concern that some offenders are being left off the list or that there is now a limit to the number of roles that offenders can be checked against, so that the potential for offenders to gain access to vulnerable people has increased.
Will the Secretary of State look again at the proposals put forward by my right hon. Friend the shadow Home Secretary, and ensure that every possible step is taken to close any possible loophole that could be exploited by a sex offender? As Kate Lampard rightly said, hospitals in the coming era are going to have to be more reliant on the work of volunteers and on fundraising. That is the context in which the NHS will operate for some considerable time and, in that context, there will be a need for a greater number of checks to ensure that those participating in the volunteering or the fundraising are appropriate people for roles in any hospital organisation. I ask the Secretary of State to ensure that the vetting and barring scheme is up to that task, so that we leave no loopholes for convicted paedophiles or sex offenders to exploit.
In conclusion, these are painful, appalling and sickening events that are a dark chapter in the history of the NHS and indeed of our country. We applaud the Secretary of State and the Government for their commitment and thoroughness in facing up to these events of our past. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman of our full support in bringing accountability and redress for the victims, and in ensuring that whatever can be done across the Floor of the House is done, so that these kind of events can never take place again in our national health service.
I thank the shadow Health Secretary for his constructive comments. I think the whole House will unite to ensure that all the necessary lessons are learned. I echo the right hon. Gentleman’s praise for the 44 very thorough reports that involved such painstaking and difficult work, and the superb job done by Kate Lampard and Ed Marsden in bringing together all those reports and thinking about the lessons that needed to be learned.
As the right hon. Gentleman observed, Kate Lampard has stated very clearly that while she does not think that there will be another instance of this kind in the future, elements of it could come about. It would be a mistake to say that this is all about stopping another Savile. We need to think more broadly about how abuse could take place in a modern context, and ensure that we learn broader lessons—which, indeed, we are learning in the context of what has happened in Rotherham, in Rochdale and elsewhere.
The right hon. Gentleman is right about the role of accountability, which clearly needs to be greatly improved. Let me answer, very directly, his question “Why was nothing done?” I think the report makes clear why nothing was done, and this is the tragedy. It was Savile’s importance, because of his fundraising, to institutions such as Stoke Mandeville in particular, as well as his celebrity, that made people afraid to speak out—and we should remember that, in all likelihood, many people have still not spoken out—but also made it less likely that something would be done when they did speak out, and that is what must never, ever be allowed to happen again.
The report does not directly criticise Ministers and civil servants for the abuse. It says there is no evidence that they had any knowledge of it. We must recognise, however, that the system itself was flawed, which is why the fact of the abuse never reached the ears of Ministers and others who were making decisions about Savile’s influence. What the report does say is that it was questionable whether processes should have been overridden, particularly in respect of financial propriety. The role that Savile was given in the construction of the new spinal injures centre at Stoke Mandeville was smoothed over as quickly as possible, because people thought that he would be able to bring a lot of money to the table, and that he would “walk”—that was the word used by the civil servants—if any bureaucratic obstacles were put in his way. That was wrong, and we can see that. It is vital for us to learn the lessons.
The right hon. Gentleman asked about the value of the Savile estate. A total of £40 million remains under management in his charities. That money will be made available to meet claims made by Savile’s victims, and if it is not enough, the Government will meet any further claims through the NHS Litigation Authority. I can also confirm that any counselling that the victims need will be made available to them by the NHS.
I do not think that there is any disagreement in principle on the issue of mandatory reporting, but it is important for a proper consultation to take place, which is why it would not have been right to pass a law as early as last week. We all want there to be a proper, strong incentive for those who are responsible for the care of vulnerable adults and children to report any concerns that are raised with them, and to ensure that something is done if any allegations are made. However, we also want to avoid the unintended consequences that might follow if legislation were badly drafted. It is particularly important for us to protect the ability of professionals to make judgments based on their assessment of what is actually happening.
We want to avoid the risk that the processes that are followed, and the ultimate decisions that are made, will not be in the best interests of the children or vulnerable adults concerned because people are following a legalistic process rather than doing what is right on the ground. No one would want that to happen, which is why it is so important for us to get the legislation exactly right. I can tell the right hon. Gentleman, however, that following the consultation—which we will carry out as soon as possible—we will legislate if necessary.
It is also important to say that there is a role for the professional codes in this area; this is about the correct professional ethics. We changed the professional codes for doctors and nurses following the Francis report, to encourage them to speak out, and there may well be lessons that need to be learned in that regard.
On the operation of the disclosure and barring system, we will of course look closely at what the shadow Home Secretary is suggesting, but a big improvement has been made to the new DBS arrangements, compared with the old Criminal Records Bureau system, in the form of the update service. Volunteers can subscribe to that service, and we are recommending today that all trusts ask volunteers to do so as a condition of their volunteering—
Order. These are extremely important matters of the highest sensitivity, and I appreciate the solicitousness with which the Secretary of State is treating them, but we have two heavily subscribed debates to which we have to progress and, before them, a statement from the hon. Member for Maldon (Mr Whittingdale), who chairs the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee. The Front-Bench exchanges have so far taken up half an hour, and that is too long. I should therefore be most grateful for the co-operation of the Secretary of State. If he could pithily draw his remarks to a close so that we can get on to the questioning by hon. Members from the Back Benches, that would be a great advance for the House and possibly for civilisation.
The Secretary of State has set out in the starkest terms the extent of the vile abuse perpetrated by Savile. It is also chilling to note in Kate Lampard’s excellent report that between 60% and 90% of child abuse is still going unreported. Those who perpetrate it are adept at adapting their mechanisms, and recommendation 9 in the report mentions the extent to which abusers use social media to abuse children on hospital sites. Can the Secretary of State tell the House whether he is going to implement recommendation 9, and if so, how that will happen?
Yes, we are; that is very important. We absolutely accept the principle that all hospitals must have explicit policies on the use of social media. We must do everything we can. It is difficult to stop people going on to Facebook, for example, but when it comes to internet access by children, there are things that we can do, and we will absolutely be implementing that recommendation.
I was Savile’s Member of Parliament and, as the Secretary of State can imagine, Leeds North East has its fair share of his victims. One such victim approached me recently in great distress. He had been abused as a child by Savile and had given his story to the police after decades, but it was not a complete story. When he was subsequently interviewed by NHS staff, they did not believe his story because it was inconsistent, owing to the fear that he had felt over the decades following the abuse. Will the Secretary of State reassure my constituent and the many others like him that they will not become victims twice?
The hon. Gentleman makes an important point, and I have great sympathy for his constituent. The information was not collated centrally. There were a number of reports about which we might have been sceptical if we had read them in isolation, but when we read them together with other reports, we see a pattern and we can conclude, as the investigation has done, that those incidents did indeed take place. That is one of the big learning points: we have to collate information that different victims provide at different times, to ensure that proper judgments can be made and that action can be taken.
It has been truly sickening to read in the report that over two decades, money, influence, celebrity and people being star-struck could allow Savile the licence serially to abuse so many people, particularly in our local Buckinghamshire hospital at Stoke Mandeville. I really welcome the apologies from the Secretary of State and from our local chief executive officer, Anne Eden, who has given a heartfelt apology and praised the courage of those who have come forward. May I press the Secretary of State further on mandatory reporting? It is exceedingly important that we start that consultation as rapidly as possible. It was obvious that the proposed clause in the Serious Crime Bill was flawed in many ways. When will he start the consultation, and when will the terms of reference be available? Will he now undertake to legislate as soon as the consultation has produced results?
I can certainly give that undertaking: we will start the consultation as soon as possible and if the conclusion is for legislation, we will legislate as soon as possible. I hope that my right hon. Friend understands that there is a great deal of complexity involved in getting this right. It is very important to talk to victims and to people who are looking at the evidence on mandatory reporting, which happens in other parts of the world, with very mixed results. Most importantly, we want to avoid the unintended consequence of a decision being taken against the interests of a child or vulnerable person because people are following a legalistic process which undermines the proper professional judgment made on the ground.
The sheer scale of this—the number of assaults, and the range of victims and locations—is just horrific, as I am sure everyone will agree. As has been said, the report states that 60% to 90% of current assaults on children are probably going unreported. Does the Health Secretary not think that better—indeed, compulsory—sexual relationships education in schools would mean that children are more likely to come forward and, importantly, that once they have gone through that education at school their parents would be more likely to believe them?
May I draw the House’s attention to another report published today, that concerning Rampton hospital in my constituency? Jimmy Savile was given almost unrestricted access to one of the UK’s most highly secure hospitals, which adds another layer to the matter. Rampton hospital contains some of the UK’s most dangerous patients. One of the most concerning issues in the Rampton report is that for staff his activities were described as an “open secret” but that management may not have known about them. If that finding is credible—it does not ring true with colleagues at the hospital I have spoken to—and is to be believed, would the Secretary of State give thought and resources to how we deal with whistleblowing and reporting in these most closed and secretive environments, where it seems to be the most important to have an open culture?
My hon. Friend speaks wisely. There were four separate disclosures of sexually inappropriate behaviour by Savile in separate incidents, not with patients, but with other people, including a young child. My hon. Friend is right: it is not just about mandatory reporting; it is also about making sure that when that reporting is done by a member of staff, something actually happens. That is part of the reason we need to do this consultation properly, because it is about making sure that the right actions are taken by people who are able to take those actions. That clearly did not happen in this case.
On 11 different occasions, Savile attended new year’s eve parties at 10 Downing street. He was honoured, knighted and lionised by the establishment. They might not have known, but the unanswered question is: why did the intelligence and security services not warn? Why did they constantly give him clearance, allowing him not only to mix with Prime Ministers and royalty, but to prey on these defenceless innocents?
The reason, I think, is that the security services would not have known about this. What the report makes clear is that where people did speak out about concerns, nothing was done. That is what is so unacceptable and what we have to change. Savile was a national celebrity, who was treated as such by the establishment at the time, the establishment not having any idea of this evil abuse that was happening.
I am very grateful to hear the Secretary of State’s statement, and I am sure it will provide reassurance in my constituency, which is also served by Stoke Mandeville hospital, that these terrible events and the underlying issues will be properly addressed. May I urge the Secretary of State on one point that emerges from the report, which is that common sense was suspended in this period? We may consider putting in systems, be it enhancing vetting or trying to make sure that volunteers are properly screened, but none of those will ultimately make a difference unless the overall culture that is there for the promotion and protection of the patient is so well ingrained that people exercise common sense in ensuring that that protection is provided. The most worrying aspect of this report is the way in which that was totally lost over a prolonged period.
My right hon. and learned Friend is right. That is why, if we change the law on mandatory reporting in any way, we need to be careful that we do not inadvertently give licence to the suspension of common sense. It is why we decided not to accept only one recommendation—the mandatory disclosure and barring checks on all volunteers in hospitals, even if they are not in close contact with patients. We believe that common sense and vigilance at local level will be one of the key ways in which we stop this happening again.
The Savile revelations never cease to amaze and shock, but are they in some respects a distraction from the bigger issues? The vast majority of abusers are not celebrities. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the bigger issues are the mindset that said, when concerns were raised, “Oh, it’s just Jimmy”, the fact that police were told to turn a blind eye, and suggestions that other doctors and clinicians were also active paedophiles and were complicit in the abuse in some way? Is not the bigger issue the institutional conspiracy to abuse? How will this report feed into the essential inquiry now under way with Justice Lowell Goddard?
What we are announcing today will be closely fed into the report that the Home Office is currently overseeing. My hon. Friend makes an important point. Clearly, some things in the report would not happen today. We can be confident that the culture across the NHS and social services has changed significantly in a positive way. There is much greater awareness of safeguarding issues. However, the report also said that elements of other things that it highlighted could happen today. That is why it is so important that we learn the necessary lessons.
The reports make it clear that Ministers’ appointment and use of Savile was improper and often contrary to advice from clinicians and officials. Former Minister Edwina Currie is quoted as telling the investigation last year:
“He knew how to pin people to the wall and get from them what he wanted. … he’d had a look at everything he could use to blackmail the POA … I thought it was a pretty classy piece of operation.”
Ministers Vaughan and Jenkin appointed Jimmy Savile to oversee the rebuilding of the national spinal injuries centre, contrary to advice, we are told in today’s report, from officials who thought that it would be better for those funds to be spent on centres of expertise around the country. Is it not critical that we understand the governance failures in this sorry saga, and that that insight feeds into the work of the Goddard inquiry?
Of course it is important that we learn the governance lessons, but the report is careful. It does not use the word “improper” in relation to the behaviour of Ministers or civil servants. It says that they acted reasonably. It raises some important questions, and I hope that the tone of my statement will reassure my hon. Friend that I do not seek to duck the fact that there are clearly questions about whether Ministers and civil servants behaved in the appropriate way. It is important that we learn the lessons from what went wrong.
I represent the constituency that is home to Broadmoor hospital, and I worked at Stoke Mandeville for two years in the early part of this century, so I have taken a deep personal interest in the investigation. I find it difficult to comprehend or accept that senior managers and clinicians were not aware of the allegations. I can find no mention in the Stoke Mandeville report of any clinician by name as yet. Can the Secretary of State assure me that looking to the future, named individuals will be given the responsibility to prevent this from happening, and if they fail there will be an impact on them, their career, their pension and the like?
The report clearly says that every trust must have a named director who is responsible for safeguarding. One can draw one’s own conclusions about whether senior management knew or not. The report was unable to find evidence that that was the case, but nor did it say that it was not the case. One comes away with the clear suspicion that senior management may not have wanted to hear the things that they were being told because of Savile’s importance in fund raising and possibly his celebrity status. That is what we must make sure never happens again.
With Stoke Mandeville serving my constituents, I was reassured to hear that in the present culture these appalling circumstances are not likely to be repeated. Can my right hon. Friend reassure me that it is now far more likely that we will see prosecutions within the lifetime of perpetrators rather than this horrific clean-up exercise after a perpetrator’s death?
I do believe that that is the case. I want to put it on record that Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, which includes Stoke Mandeville, has made huge progress in turning round and improving its culture. It came out of special measures last year and the staff and management are to be congratulated. His constituents can be confident that, although things are not perfect, huge progress has been made to improve standards.
I welcome the report. I support mandatory reporting and I look forward to seeing some serious progress in this respect. Staff and volunteers in all sorts of settings need the ability to report outside their organisation. Where the state is a corporate parent or a carer, or a provider of an extended home setting, it is important that young and vulnerable people can find some way of reporting outside. Is the Secretary of State willing to strengthen the role, in conjunction with other Secretaries of State, of the local authority designated officer? Already we know that people in schools and colleges can go to the LADO, but surely that is also appropriate for health and care settings, homes, prisons, the armed forces and anywhere else where there are young and vulnerable people. The benefit is that the LADO is perceived as independent and is someone outside the employer’s strict reporting guidelines. It would give a better chance for victims to be heard, action to be taken and lessons to be learned.
I am happy to look into that, but hospitals have a responsibility to go to the LADO if there is an incident affecting one of their volunteers or staff. The report makes it clear that they should exercise that responsibility with great diligence, but I am happy to look into the idea that patients should have that access as well.
This morning a legal representative of the survivors group said that she had evidence that it had been reported to senior management that Savile had committed offences at Stoke Mandeville. Can the Secretary of State advise whether that opens up the NHS to compensation claims? Can he ensure that any damages claims fall on the Savile estate?
We have already paid compensation claims. Initially, those claims will be taken from the Savile estate and the money left in the Savile charities, but if those funds prove not to be enough we would pay from the NHS Litigation Authority. The report is not able to confirm the extent to which senior management knew or did not know about the allegations, so it is difficult to make progress on the specific points, but that does not stop people being able to make a claim and receive compensation.
I echo the Secretary of State’s praise from those involved in this meticulous investigation and report, but does he acknowledge the concern that the cases of many victims of sexual abuse in other organisations and institutions have not involved a celebrity? I have in my possession a letter from 1993 sent from a Barnardo’s project worker in Leeds to Leeds city council, which blames a constituent of mine for her own rape. Nothing was done to protect her. The abuse continued, and that offence was not reported to the police. Clearly, that would not happen now, but there are still victims whose cases are not being looked at and are not getting justice. What can be done about that?
A lot of things, and that is what this morning is all about. Mandatory reporting so that the reporting of incidents becomes the norm and not the exception is clearly an area where culture has to change. We have to find the right way to do that. Also, if we get this culture right, we should be able—this must be the ultimate objective of all this work—to stop such incidents happening in the first place. If people had acted earlier on their suspicions about Savile, a lot of victims would have been spared the torment that they subsequently had to endure. The biggest tragedy of all this is that it happened over decades and nothing was done. That is what we need to make sure never happens again.