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Macur Review

Volume 607: debated on Thursday 17 March 2016

With permission, Mr Speaker, I will make a statement on the publication of the report of the Macur review.

On 5 November 2012, the Prime Minister announced the establishment of an independent review of the scope and conduct of Sir Ronald Waterhouse’s inquiry into allegations of child abuse in care homes in Clwyd and Gwynedd between 1974 and 1990. Let us be clear: we are talking about dark and shameful events that are a stain on our nation. The children were in the care of the state because they were vulnerable, and the state let them down. That is why our first thought will always be with the victims, supporting them and bringing the perpetrators to justice.

The Prime Minister’s announcement of a review of Waterhouse followed significant public concern that its terms of reference were too narrow, and that allegations of child abuse were not properly investigated by Waterhouse, particularly where those allegations concerned prominent individuals. The Waterhouse inquiry was established in 1996 by the then Secretary of State for Wales, now Lord Hague of Richmond, following allegations of endemic child abuse at care homes in Clwyd and Gwynedd. Waterhouse’s final report, “Lost in Care”, published in 2000, concluded:

“Widespread sexual abuse of boys occurred in children’s residential establishments in Clwyd between 1974 and 1990”,

and that there was a paedophile ring operating in the north Wales and Chester areas, but no reference was made to any abuse being carried out by nationally prominent individuals.

On 8 November 2012, the then Secretary of State for Justice, my right hon. Friend the Member for Epsom and Ewell (Chris Grayling), and my predecessor, my right hon. Friend the Member for Clwyd West (Mr Jones), announced that the review would be headed by Mrs Justice Macur DBE, a High Court judge of the family division. Her terms of reference were to review the scope of Waterhouse; determine whether any specific allegations of child abuse falling within the Waterhouse’s terms of reference were not investigated; and to make recommendations to the Secretaries of State for Justice and for Wales.

Lady Justice Macur submitted her report to the Secretary of State for Justice and me on 10 December 2015. I pay tribute to her and her team for their work and for their thoroughness and diligence in carrying it out, particularly in the light of the huge amount of material that needed to be considered. She and her team have examined the 1 million-plus pages of documents relating to Waterhouse provided to her from many sources. She has conducted interviews with individuals closely involved with the work of Waterhouse; with those who provided written submissions to Waterhouse; with those involved in police investigations; and with those who worked on the prosecution files of those accused of abuse of children in care in north Wales. She published an issues paper, in English and in Welsh, with suggestions of broad areas of interest, to prompt written submissions from those affected. She also arranged a public meeting in Wrexham specifically to engage those in the local area.

Having completed that work, Lady Justice Macur’s main finding is as follows:

“I have found no reason to undermine the conclusions of”


“in respect of the nature and the scale of abuse.”

Lady Justice Macur looked carefully at the specific issue of nationally prominent figures and concluded that there was no

“evidence of the involvement of nationally prominent individuals in the abuse of children in care in North Wales between 1974 and 1996”.

While the Government welcome that finding, the context in which it is made must never be forgotten.

In addressing concerns about the time taken by the former Welsh Office to set up the Waterhouse inquiry in the mid-1990s, Lady Justice Macur does recognise that there was some reluctance in that Department to undertake a public inquiry. However, she concludes that any reluctance to undertake a public inquiry was

“not with a view to protect politicians or other establishment figures”

and that

“the government was right to consider the different options since a public inquiry...was correctly understood to be a major undertaking”.

Lady Justice Macur is also clear that waiting until Crown Prosecution Service investigations had been completed was the correct decision, as

“the government would be justifiably subject to criticism in creating any situation that compromised ongoing criminal investigation or prospective trials of accused abusers”.

Lady Justice Macur makes it clear that she is satisfied that Waterhouse’s terms of reference were not framed to conceal the identity of any establishment figure, nor have they been interpreted by the tribunal with a design to do so. She has also found that, despite the Welsh Office being both the commissioning Department and a party to Waterhouse, there was ample independence of Waterhouse from the Welsh Office.

Freemasonry has been a persistent theme of concern in relation to the events in north Wales and is referenced extensively in Waterhouse. I am grateful to Lady Justice Macur for her thorough explorations of this issue, but she is satisfied that

"the impact of freemasonry on the issues concerning the Tribunal was soundly researched and appropriately presented and pursued”

and that

“there is nothing to call into question the adequacy of the Tribunal’s investigations into the issue of freemasonry at any stage of the process”.

As I mentioned earlier, Lady Justice Macur states:

“I make clear that I have seen NO evidence of child abuse by politicians or national establishment figures in the documents which were available to the Tribunal, save that which could be classed as unreliable speculation.”

On the direct evidence before them, she also found that it was

“not unreasonable for the Tribunal to conclude that there was no evidence of a further paedophile ring in existence"

outside of that described by Waterhouse.

In addition to her main finding that she has no reason to undermine Waterhouse’s conclusions, Lady Justice Macur makes a total of six recommendations. Her first relates to ensuring that any public inquiry, investigation or review can be objectively viewed as beyond reproach. The Government agree. We have already been clear that, during the establishment of the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse in 2014, we did not get it right in initially appointing two chairs who had failed to win the trust of survivors. This is a principle that should be rigorously observed in the establishment of inquiries, investigations or reviews.

Lady Justice Macur’s second recommendation is that the preservation and correct archiving of material of an important public inquiry or review is essential. This links to her third recommendation that all Government Departments should possess an accurate database of the documents and materials held by them. Again, we agree with both those recommendations.

When the Welsh Office, which established Waterhouse, was disbanded in 1999, the files it held on newly devolved issues such as social care and children’s services were transferred to the National Assembly for Wales. This included the Waterhouse computer database. When Lady Justice Macur requested this, it was found that in 2008 Welsh Government IT contractors had declared that its contents were “corrupted and unreadable” and they had therefore been destroyed. She finds that it was an

“innocent mistake, rather than a calculated ploy”.

Files relating to Waterhouse will not be returned to the Wales Office; given their historical importance, they have been transferred to the Welsh Government for onward transmission to the National Archives.

The Government accept the criticisms made by Lady Justice Macur of the way documents were stored. Similar criticisms were made of the Home Office in the first Wanless and Whittam inquiry in 2014. Following the recommendations made by Wanless and Whittam on the management of files containing records of child sexual abuse, the Cabinet Secretary asked all permanent secretaries to consider how their Departments can learn lessons from the review and put in place appropriate safeguards. Likewise, following the establishment of the Goddard inquiry, the Cabinet Office announced a moratorium on the destruction of information, and put in place processes for the storage of such material. The failure of the new Wales Office in 1999, under a previous Government, to adequately archive the material is simply inexcusable, but a much more rigorous approach to records management is now in place in the Department, abiding by National Archives policy on records management.

Lady Justice Macur’s fourth recommendation is that due criminal process is better suited to the disposal of any unresolved complaints and allegations that were not investigated during the course of Waterhouse, rather than a public or a private inquiry. The Government agree, and welcome particularly the work of Operation Pallial in this area.

Lady Justice Macur’s fifth recommendation relates to consideration of criminal charges relating to events referenced in paragraphs 6.45 to 6.75. For the sake of clarity, let me say that this does not relate to the actions of the Welsh Office or any other Government Department. The police and the Crown Prosecution Service are aware of the specifics of this matter and it is for them to consider further.

The final recommendation relates to the process of establishing a review of previous tribunals or boards of inquiry. Lady Justice Macur notes that

“the conclusions of any such body will not meet with universal approval, and that those with an interest, personal or otherwise, will seek justification for their views and be unlikely to accept the contrary”.

The Government note this and understand that it is inevitable that some people will remain dissatisfied, despite the comprehensive work undertaken by the Waterhouse inquiry and now by Lady Justice Macur.

Hon. Members who have long campaigned on this issue have said that the report should have been published without delay. I absolutely share the same instinct for openness and full transparency. However, Lady Justice Macur has acknowledged that her final report contains information, including the names of some individuals, that it would not be possible to publish. In particular, she notes that certain parts of her report ought to be redacted, pending the outcome of ongoing legal proceedings or police investigations. We have worked closely with the Director of Public Prosecutions and the police—specifically representatives of Operations Pallial, Hydrant and Orarian—to ensure that no investigations or trials will be prejudiced by the release of this report. The names of those found guilty of crimes of child sexual abuse in a court of law have of course not been removed.

The names of contributors to the review and Waterhouse have not generally been redacted, but Lady Justice Macur also cautioned that, under the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992, victims of alleged sexual offences are entitled to lifelong anonymity. As such, these names, along with names of individual members of the Crown Prosecution Service and police informants, have been considered carefully by Sue Gray, director general of propriety and ethics in the Cabinet Office. We have accepted her advice in full, and a small number of redactions have been made in those categories. The full details of the process by which redactions in these areas were made is set out in a letter from Sue Gray that I am today publishing alongside the redacted report.

Lady Justice Macur urged caution in relation to releasing the names of individuals accused of abuse, or speculated to be involved in abuse, who have not been subject to a police investigation, have not been convicted of a criminal offence, and/or whose names are not in the public domain in the context of child abuse, whether establishment figures or not. She argued that to do so would be

“unfair in two respects and unwise in a third:…first, the nature of the information against them sometimes derives from multiple hearsay;…second, these individuals will have no proper opportunity to address the unattributed and, sometimes, unspecified allegations of disreputable conduct made against them;…and third, police investigations may be compromised”.

We have followed that advice and removed those names from the report published today. It is a fundamental tenet of the law in this country that those accused of a crime are able to face their accusers in court, with a jury of their peers to consider the evidence, and not tried in the court of public opinion as a result of “multiple hearsay”. It would be irresponsible for the Government to behave differently. To provide total clarity on the process by which this group of names was redacted, I am also today publishing a letter from Jonathan Jones, Treasury solicitor and head of the Government Legal Department, setting this out.

I should also like to stress that a full and unredacted version of the report has been provided to the wider independent inquiry into child sexual abuse, chaired by Justice Lowell Goddard, to aid its investigations. It has also been seen by the Director of Public Prosecutions, the CPS and representatives of Operations Pallial, Orarian and Hydrant.

As a Government, we are determined to see those guilty of crimes against children in north Wales brought to justice, and this is happening through the excellent work of Operation Pallial. In November 2012, the chief constable of North Wales police asked Keith Bristow, director general of the National Crime Agency, to lead Operation Pallial, which would look into specific recent allegations of historical abuse in the care system in north Wales. A total of seven men have been convicted of one or more offences following investigations by Operation Pallial, and a further eight have been acquitted after a jury trial. That includes John Allen, who ran Bryn Alyn Community, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in December 2014 after a jury found him guilty of 33 charges of serious sexual abuse. Five members of a predatory paedophile group received a total of 43 years in jail in September 2015, having been found guilty of a total of 34 offences of abuse.

Operation Pallial has now been contacted by 334 people, who have had the trust and confidence to come forward to report abuse. A total of 102 complaints are actively being investigated at this very moment. A total of 51 men and women have been arrested or interviewed under caution, and work to locate further suspects is continuing. A total of 16 people have been charged or summonsed to court as a result of Operation Pallial so far. Charging advice is awaited in relation to a further 26 suspects.

A total of 32 suspects are believed to be dead, and work is ongoing to confirm this. An independent review of evidence against 25 of these deceased suspects has indicated that there would have been sufficient evidence to make a case to the CPS for them to be charged with various offences. Those who made complaints in such cases have been updated personally by the Pallial team. A further two trials have been set for 2016, with further trials expected.

In closing, I would once again like to thank Lady Justice Macur and her team for their diligent and exhaustive work in providing this report. I would like to pay tribute to the courage of those victims for coming forward and reliving the horrible detail of their experiences to ensure that the truth can be established once and for all. I would like to pay tribute to the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Director of Public Prosecutions for their collective work to ensure that those who were involved in the abuse of children in north Wales, who perhaps thought that the mists of time had hidden their crimes for ever, are now being made to pay for what they did. I commend this statement to the House.

I thank the Secretary of State for his statement and for advance sight of it.

The horrific abuse that was carried out at care homes in north Wales has shocked us all and our thoughts today must be with the survivors. Not only did they endure violence from those who were meant to protect them, but they have had to wait years—decades—to be heard.

I would like to pay tribute to my right hon. Friend the Member for Cynon Valley (Ann Clwyd) who has campaigned tirelessly for the survivors ever since these allegations came to light. As she has highlighted before, some of those who were abused at Bryn Estyn and other homes have since taken their own lives. It is therefore right that we think of their families today and of everyone affected by this scandal.

The extent of the abuse revealed by the Waterhouse inquiry was staggering. It found evidence of “widespread and persistent” physical and sexual abuse, including multiple rapes carried out against young boys and girls. This abuse was allowed to take place over many years, sometimes decades, in the very homes where vulnerable children should have felt safe. The scale of the abuse is shocking, but what is also shocking is that many of the inquiries into this abuse have encountered a reluctance to co-operate with them, and a refusal to publish their conclusions—in short, cover-ups and missed opportunities.

As the Secretary of State has indicated, the Macur review was

“set up to examine whether any specific allegations of child abuse falling within the terms of reference of the Waterhouse Inquiry were not investigated.”

On behalf of the Opposition, I would like to extend our thanks to Lady Justice Macur and her review team for the work that they have undertaken. In the light of what has happened to previous reports and the overwhelming need for transparency, I welcome the fact that the Macur review has now been published.

There may be cases where redactions are needed, not least to ensure that no ongoing police investigation is compromised, but these redactions must be as few as possible and they must be justified to the survivors. Can the Secretary of State confirm that this review, along with the many other reports on and inquiries into abuse in north Wales, will be made available in full to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, and that this inquiry will be able to see full, unredacted copies of these reports?

The Waterhouse inquiry found that most children did not feel able to come forward to report what had happened to them. The few who did were discouraged from taking matters further. In fact, were it not for the bravery of whistleblower Alison Taylor, many cases of abuse would not have been uncovered. Although we recognise that processes for safeguarding children have changed radically since many of these cases took place, we must always be ready to learn lessons to ensure that we can protect children better in the future.

Having studied the report, what changes in policy or practice do the Government feel are necessary? What steps will they take to ensure a co-ordinated response to any future cases, wherever they occur—in the public, private or third sector? Does the Secretary of State believe that there is sufficient protection for whistleblowers such as Alison Taylor?

We know that physical and sexual abuse has a lasting impact on the lives of those affected. In recent years, many survivors have felt able to come forward and report the abuse that they experienced. Indeed, we know that a number of people contacted the Children’s Commissioner for Wales following the announcement of the review, and it is possible that others will come forward as a result of the report’s publication. No matter how long ago the abuse took place, survivors need support to rebuild their lives. What support is being given to the survivors of abuse who have come forward, and what conversations has the Secretary of State had with agencies, including the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, to ensure that survivors of abuse know where to turn?

The scale of the abuse that has become apparent in recent years has shocked the whole of society. It is now clear that many thousands of children were targeted by predatory abusers in places where they should have felt safe. Far too many of those children were let down for a second time when they reached out for help, but nothing was done. Our duty is to make sure that survivors of abuse are heard and listened to, that those who report abuse are given sufficient protection, and that anyone who is responsible for acts of violence against children is brought to justice. Above all, we must ensure that this appalling abuse can never be allowed to happen again.

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for her response to the statement, and for the spirit and tone in which she made it. I join her in paying tribute to the right hon. Member for Cynon Valley (Ann Clwyd) for her long-standing work in trying to achieve justice not only for her constituents who suffered abuse, but for the wider number of care home residents at the time.

When we discussed this issue during a recent session of Wales Office questions, the right hon. Member for Cynon Valley asked me about the redactions. I gave her a commitment that everything possible would be done to ensure that they were kept to a minimum, and that we would be able to explain the reasons for them fully. As I said in my statement, I believe that the letters that we have published along with the report set out those reasons very clearly, but I suggest that Members read Lady Justice Macur’s remarks in the report urging caution in relation to the publication of the names of individuals in the various categories that she describes. I hope that those explanations will provide ample justification for the redactions.

The hon. Lady asked whether we would make a full, unredacted version of the report available to the independent Goddard inquiry. The answer is yes, absolutely. We have also made a full, unredacted copy available to the Crown Prosecution Service, the Director of Public Prosecutions and Operations Pallial, Hydrant and Orarian.

The hon. Lady asked about changes in policy and practice, and about looking to the future. As I said in my statement, Lady Justice Macur has made a number of specific asks of the Government. She has asked for changes to be made, and made recommendations about, in particular, the way in which material is stored and archived. That is one of the weaknesses that she found in establishing her inquiry after 2012, when it was set up. She referred to the “disarray” that many of the files were in. There are important lessons to be learned by Government as a whole—devolved Administrations and the United Kingdom Government—about the way in which sensitive material is archived and protected for the future. Those lessons have been and are being learnt.

As for the wider issue of how we support the survivors and victims of abuse, I think that there has been an enormous cultural change in the last 30 years in Wales and throughout the United Kingdom. That is one of the reasons why more survivors now feel empowered to come forward as part of Operation Pallial, to relive those horrific events, and to make specific allegations, which are being pursued rigorously by the National Crime Agency.

The really positive developments that have taken place since the 1990s, including the establishment of the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, show that as a society we have made a lot of progress. Of course we do not get everything right, and there is much more that we need to learn to do, but we have made a lot of progress over the past 30 years on the way in which we support victims of sexual abuse and address this issue. I do not wish to sound complacent in any way, however, and indeed there is no sense of complacency in Lady Justice Macur’s report that we are publishing today. I hope that that addresses the hon. Lady’s specific question.

The hon. Lady also asked what support was being provided through the independent Goddard inquiry. The inquiry will shortly open an office in Cardiff to reach out to survivors in Wales, and it will work through the mediums of English and Welsh.

I thank the Secretary of State for his statement. I also pay tribute to the work done by Lady Justice Macur. I know that it has been a monumental undertaking for her. The events she was investigating have cast a dark cloud over north Wales and the Chester area for many years. I am hopeful that the report published today will ease those concerns, but I have to say to my right hon. Friend that I continue to have my own concerns in two respects. The first relates to the absence of documentation. I fully accept what he has said about its storage, which has frankly been little more than a catalogue of disaster, but will he assure the House that not only his Department and Her Majesty’s Government but the Welsh Assembly Government, who had custody of the documents but lost them, have learned the lessons from this?

My second concern relates to the redactions, which I believe will cause the most concern in north Wales. I fully understand the reasons that my right hon. Friend and Lady Justice Macur have given for this, but can he confirm that Justice Lowell Goddard will have the right to pursue in her own inquiry the identities of those whose names have been redacted in today’s report?

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for his questions. He was one of the joint commissioning Secretaries of State for the foundation of the Macur review. He asked two specific questions. The first was about the absence of the relevant documentation. The conclusion that Lady Justice Macur comes to is that she is confident she has seen enough documentation from the Waterhouse tribunal to make some strong conclusions about the overall findings that Waterhouse reached, and that she supports the overall findings of Waterhouse based on her exhaustive trawl through 1 million-plus pages of documentation. Where there are gaps, she has concluded that they are not sufficient to cast into doubt her overall findings.

My right hon. Friend’s second point related to redactions. Again I make the point that a full unredacted copy has gone to the Goddard inquiry. He asked whether Goddard would be able to pursue those names in the unredacted report. Let us bear it in mind that one of the specific recommendations of the Macur review is that the police and the judicial process will be best placed to go after those people against whom specific allegations have been made, and that public or private inquiries are not the best forum in which to do that.

Page 300 of the Waterhouse report lists the names of 13 young men who could not give evidence to the new review because they had lost their lives. Most of them took their own lives following the case, when they appeared before those who had been accused. They were all used to give evidence in court, some of them because of their police backgrounds. The victims were mercilessly torn to shreds and several of them took their own lives as a direct consequence of the abuse being continued by our court system. That is still continuing today. What this report covers would not have been revealed were it not for the work of my right hon. Friend the Member for Cynon Valley (Ann Clwyd) and Bruce Kennedy and Paddy French, journalists at HTV. It is difficult to judge the report before giving it full consideration, but this is a heart-breaking story of abuse. Those who were responsible were laughing as they went away from court, and the lives of innocents were ended prematurely. We still need to look further into the matter and to consider carefully why some names are still redacted. Is this historical abuse continuing?

The hon. Gentleman is exactly right. We are talking about heinous, horrific acts of abuse. We are talking about children who were in the care of the state and got anything but the care of the state. It is a long and tragic sequence of events. Of course, today’s report will not bring full closure to absolutely everybody who lived through those experiences, but Lady Justice Macur has been thorough and diligent in her task of trawling through all the paperwork of the Waterhouse inquiry to try to make sense of whether victims got a fair shout and whether questions about nationally prominent individuals, further paedophile rings, and the role of freemasonry were addressed appropriately. I encourage all hon. Members with an interest in the matter to read the report in full and to reflect on its conclusions.

As for continuing the investigation of those who are guilty, let me be clear that there are people walking around in north Wales and elsewhere in the United Kingdom right now who were there at the time, who participated in and witnessed these acts, and who have gone for years thinking that they are untouchable. I hope that the summary of the achievements of Operation Pallial that I read out earlier demonstrated that such people should be looking over their shoulders.

Order. These are extremely sensitive matters, so I say this with care, but it would be appreciated if colleagues could be economical in their questions and answers, simply because the Budget debate is heavily subscribed. We will now have an exemplary lesson from Mr Mark Pritchard.

What happened in north Wales is nothing short of a national scandal for Wales, but will the Secretary of State put on the record his thanks to all those who work day in, day out in childcare, orphanages and other facilities, both in Wales and elsewhere in the United Kingdom, and do so professionally and with care?

I am glad that the Government, the police and the National Crime Agency are taking action. What recent discussions has the Secretary of State had with the NCA about Operation Pallial to ensure that we get more people in court and prosecuted for these heinous crimes?

We absolutely put on the record today our thanks for and appreciation of the hard work of those who work in the care sector, supporting vulnerable children wherever they are in the United Kingdom

The National Crime Agency has kept me regularly updated with the progress of Operation Pallial. Just yesterday, I had further discussions with the agency’s deputy director. I am absolutely confident that the NCA is vigorously pursuing all lines of investigation.

Abuse survivors will be dismayed at this morning’s litany of name-concealing and the destruction of evidence. They may rightly feel that their evidence is transient, disposable and not worth safeguarding. How will the Secretary of State work with the Children’s Commissioner for Wales and the Welsh Government to ensure that lessons are learned and that this never happens again?

The hon. Lady is right that people will still be feeling like that. All I would say is that they should take the time to go through the report and look at how Lady Justice Macur has handled to the very best of her ability all the sensitive, difficult questions that have plagued survivors for years and years. A lot of lessons have already been learned from the events we are talking about. As I said in answer to a question a few moments ago, that is not to say we are complacent, as there is always more we can learn as a society. But in terms of where we are in Wales right now, we have the Children’s Commissioner and the work that the Welsh Government are doing. There is good collaboration between UK Departments and the Welsh Government on these issues to do with social services, childcare and vulnerable people. The work is positive and will carry on.

The people of Wrexham, where many of these horrible events took place, will be astonished by the contents of today’s statement. As a solicitor who practised in the courts around Wrexham in the ‘80s and ‘90s, I am astonished by its contents. I note that the Secretary of State referred only fleetingly to some reluctance in the old Welsh Office to undertake a public inquiry in the 1990s, and I will read the report closely in that respect. Will he please tell me why the prosecutions that are now taking place as a result of Operation Pallial did not take place in 2000, following the Waterhouse inquiry? He did not address that at all in his statement.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question. He expresses astonishment. What I say in response to that is that if he has specific information about specific individuals, he knows where to go with it—to the police. His question as to why the arrests are being made now and were not being made 30 years ago is a specific question that I have put to the NCA. Its response was that, first, this is because of the publicity of recent years and, secondly, it is because of the culture change, with a lot more witnesses feeling empowered to come forward. That is part of the reason why much greater convictions are being secured; the police are receiving greater, specific evidence from survivors and victims who feel willing to come forward.

Has the Macur review had unfettered access to those who can explain why the original Waterhouse inquiry did not name the persons of public prominence in its report?

Some of the individuals who worked on the Waterhouse tribunal are no longer living, but Lady Justice Macur has pursued, to the very best of her ability, direct conversations with people who worked on the tribunal at the time. As I explained earlier, she has also reached out to survivors. She held that public event in Wrexham to explore this as fully as she possibly could. This was not just her trawling through boxes of documents to explore all these questions. She explains why names should not just be bandied about and she explains clearly why a redaction process is necessary, and I encourage the hon. Gentleman to look through that, along with the letters I am publishing alongside it today, in order to understand this.

The Secretary of State was right to acknowledge the anguish and suffering that these events have caused and the fact that the police need to continue inquiries in respect of any of the perpetrators. Does he agree that it is vital that victims get support with mental health services and therapy? Will he be making representations to make sure that some of the money the Government are rightly investing in mental health goes to help victims of these types of terrible crimes?

My hon. Friend makes an important point about the way we support survivors and victims of abuse, no matter how far back the events occurred. I assure him that for those people who have come forward it is not just a question of our listening and receiving evidence; consideration is given to what further support can be given. Some victims do not feel that they can come forward. Some have moved on and now have families of their own, and for them these are episodes in their past that they are keeping deeply buried. This is obviously a matter of choice for individual survivors.

Many of my constituents who have been abused have felt let down because of the long, long delays in this and other reports being produced. They feel that because their abusers have died they will not now get the justice that they deserve. Does the report cover records held by the local authorities in north Wales? I have encountered constituents who have found it difficult to obtain records, particularly those held by Gwynedd authority.

Lady Justice Macur’s specific recommendations relate to records that have been kept by national Government. Parts of her report does go, in detail, into how information was handled by local authorities. We are talking about the former local authorities of Clwyd and Gwynedd, which were disbanded and turned into new local authorities. At this point in time, I would just encourage him to read through the report. If he has further questions, he will have an opportunity to explore this further next week in a Westminster Hall debate secured by the hon. Member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd (Liz Saville Roberts).