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Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse: Report

Volume 733: debated on Monday 22 May 2023

With permission, Madam Deputy Speaker, I would like to make a statement about the Government’s response to the final report of the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse. The inquiry lasted seven years and its findings are harrowing, involving widespread child sexual abuse going back decades and shameful institutional failures in child protection. Each case represents an intensely personal story of the pain and suffering of a child enduring something that nobody should endure. I am so sorry that anyone has. The interests of victims and survivors are at the heart of the inquiry’s report, and of the Government’s response. I want to thank the more than 6,000 victims and survivors who bravely came forward to share their testimonies. I was humbled and moved when meeting several of them recently. Today is about ensuring their voices are heard and reflected in our work, so that future generations do not suffer as they did. I promise that their courage will count.

I pay tribute to the chair of the inquiry, Professor Alexis Jay, and her team for their fearless commitment to uncovering horrendous societal, professional and institutional failures, and for years of meticulous and diligent work. We must use this moment to bring this crime further out of the shadows, to provide proper support to all victims and survivors, and to deliver real and enduring change.

This Government have repeatedly shown our determination to stop the scourge of child sexual abuse. Just last month the Prime Minister and I announced new measures to tackle the evil of grooming gangs, but there is zero room for complacency and the inquiry’s final report confronts us with a necessary moment for further reflection. It is more than a collection of recommendations; it is a call for fundamental cultural change, societal change, professional change and institutional change.

I am pleased to say that this Government have risen to the inquiry’s challenge. We are accepting the need to act on 19 of the inquiry’s 20 final recommendations. That includes driving work across Government to improve victims’ experience of the criminal justice system, the criminal injuries compensation scheme, workforce regulation, access to records, consistent and compatible data, and communications on the scale and nature of child sexual abuse. The Government’s response does not represent our final word on the inquiry’s findings, but rather the start of a new chapter.

We will continue to engage with victims and survivors, with child protection organisations and with Professor Jay to ensure they retain sight of our work and confidence in our delivery. The full Government response will be published online at The Welsh Government have responded separately on matters relating to Wales alone.

I will now highlight our response to some of the most consequential recommendations. We need to stop perpetrators in their tracks, and we need better to protect and support the children they seek to prey upon. To do this we must address the systemic under-reporting of child sexual abuse. As I announced in April, the Government accept the inquiry’s recommendation to introduce a new mandatory reporting duty across England. Today, I am launching a call for evidence that will inform how this new duty can be best designed to prevent the continued abuse of children and ensure they get help as soon as possible.

The inquiry recommended a redress scheme for victims and survivors of historical child sexual abuse, which the Government also accept. Of course, nobody can ever fully compensate victims and survivors for the abuse they suffered, but what we can do is properly acknowledge their suffering and deliver justice and an appropriate form of redress. This is a landmark commitment. It will be complex and challenging, but it really matters. As the inquiry recommends, we will carefully consult victims and survivors; we will draw on lessons from other jurisdictions; and we will make sure we honour the inquiry’s legacy as we design the scheme.

We accept that there is more we can do to ensure that those who have suffered get access to the provision they need to help them recover and rebuild their lives. We have already introduced the Victims and Prisoners Bill, which will ensure that the criminal justice system delivers on victims’ entitlements. It will also introduce a new statutory duty on local partners to work together when commissioning support services for victims of sexual violence, but where we need to go further, we will. We will elicit views on the future of therapeutic support, including systemic changes to provision, through the extensive consultation we are undertaking on redress. It is right that we consider these things together so we can better deliver the support needed by child and adult victims and survivors of abuse.

The inquiry rightly demands proper leadership and governance of child protection. In response to the inquiry’s recommendation for a new child protection authority, the Department for Education’s implementation strategy “Stable Homes, Built on Love” has set out major reform to children’s social care. Although taking a different form, we are confident that these reforms will fulfil the proposed functions of such a child protection agency and ensure a coherent response across all parts of the system to child sexual abuse. The Government will, however, closely monitor the delivery of our commitments through our newly established child protection ministerial group, inviting scrutiny from victims, survivors and other partners. We will keep this House and the other place regularly updated on our progress.

The inquiry makes two recommendations relating to the horrifying and growing threat of online child sexual abuse. The Government’s Online Safety Bill will be a truly world-leading law that will make the UK the safest place to be online. The strongest measures in the Bill are reserved for child sexual abuse, leaving companies in no doubt about their duties to remove and report child sexual abuse material found on their platforms, and to use technologies such as age verification. Child sexual abuse is a global crime, which is why we continue to lead work with international partners to bring pressure to bear on the big tech companies, which must face up to their moral duty to protect children.

There is no greater evil than hurting a child. This landmark inquiry found that for far too long stopping child sexual abuse was seen as no one’s responsibility. We must ensure that child abuse is brought out of the shadows, we must make it everyone’s responsibility, and we must give those who have suffered the confidence that their voices will be heard, their needs will be met and they will be protected. We owe a great debt of gratitude to the victims and survivors who came forward, to their families and to campaigners. Today is their moment, and it must be a watershed moment. I commend this statement to the House.

I thank the Home Secretary for advance sight of her statement, and join her in paying tribute to the victims and survivors of this hideous crime. Many of those victims and survivors have been crucial to establishing the inquiry in the first place and have been involved, working hard to make sure that voices are heard. Their strength should be recognised and their calls to action must be heeded.

There is no more hideous crime than child sexual exploitation and abuse, a crime that preys on vulnerability and leave scars that are felt for the rest of a young person’s life. The independent inquiry set up by the Home Secretary’s predecessor, the right hon. Member for Maidenhead (Mrs May), identified failings across a wide range of institutional settings, including local councils, the Anglican and Catholic Churches, and organised groups and networks. In each area, action is needed to make sure that abuse is tackled wherever it is found.

I welcome the Government’s acceptance that there needs to be a redress scheme for victims and survivors of historical abuse. I ask the Home Secretary what the timetable and next steps will be on that, as that trauma can last a lifetime and is truly devastating for those who experience it.

May I also say to the Home Secretary that the rest of the statement is inadequate as a Government response to such a serious and weighty report? I am glad that she has accepted the need to act on 19 of the 20 recommendations, but that is not the same as accepting the recommendations or as setting out what action she is actually going to take. For example, the inquiry said that victims and survivors should receive

“a guarantee of specialist therapeutic support”,

but all her statement says is:

“We will elicit views on the future of therapeutic support”.

We know that that therapeutic support is inadequate and that there are lots of views already—the whole point of the inquiry was to gather those views and that evidence. On many of the recommendations, there is little detail. All that the Home Secretary has done is simply point to what the Government are doing already. I hope that there is more in the full report to which she refers, but there is far too little in the statement today to give us any confidence.

Labour called for mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse nearly a decade ago. The Government finally agreed to do it in April, but all the Home Secretary has done today is open a call for evidence. Well, there have already been many calls for evidence. In fact, the inquiry gathered lots of evidence. At best, she could have launched her own call for evidence some time ago. Why is mandatory reporting not in the Victims and Prisoners Bill? That is our opportunity to make progress rapidly.

The Home Secretary’s response to online sexual abuse is far too weak. She has referred to the Online Safety Bill—we know that that is long delayed and watered down—but this is not just about the legislation; it is also about the action that is taken. Since then, we have had an inspectorate report on online abuse that describes the police response to online child sexual abuse and exploitation as

“too often leaving vulnerable children at risk”,

with examples of police taking up to 18 months to make an arrest after becoming aware that children were at risk of abuse. There was nothing on that in her statement. What action will she take on policing?

New evidence from the Internet Watch Foundation found that the number of web pages containing category A material has more than doubled since 2020—just in the past few years alone. Again, the response is wholly inadequate.

Charging rates have got worse and worse. Every year, approximately 500,000 children will be sexually abused, only one in five of whom is likely to report their abuse. Only 11% of the reported cases result in a charge, down from more than 30% in 2015. It has got so much worse over the past few years. That means that the overwhelming majority of child sexual abusers face no consequences—criminals are getting away with these terrible, terrible crimes. It has got even worse than the last time we discussed this topic in the House in October.

On child protection and the Disclosure and Barring Service, again, we have warned about gaps in the disclosure and barring system, and there are still problems with it. Only last year, we had unaccompanied asylum-seeking children being placed in hotels without properly trained DBS staff. What has the Home Secretary done since then even to reform child protection in her own Department?

Children and teenagers have paid the price of the country’s failure to tackle child sexual abuse and exploitation. The Home Secretary’s predecessor rightly set up this inquiry, but there is a responsibility on every single one of us, and in particular on the Home Secretary and the Government, to make sure that action takes place. This is about the victims and the survivors, but it is also about future generations of children whose safety and lives will be at risk if we do not see action.

I thank the right hon. Lady for her questions and her response, and for the utmost seriousness with which she has approached this topic.

As I said in my statement, the report represents fundamental change to the way in which we deal with child abuse. I hope that the recommendations that we are taking forward today demonstrate the Government’s commitment to tackling this evil. The right hon. Lady asks about timetable and pace. On the speed of the report and our response, I hope she will appreciate that it is important not only that the independent assessor, Professor Jay, took the time to get the report right, but that we consider things thoroughly now so that we make the most of the recommendations and ensure that we deliver the level of reform that will make a meaningful difference on the ground to victims and survivors and that will make a difference in culture to prevent this from happening again.

This is reform on a level not seen before. It will mark a step change in our approach to child sexual abuse. We need to, and we will, get this right. If that takes time, that is time well spent. I do not want to give victims and survivors the false impression that implementing these big commitments will happen overnight. What I can promise them is that this response heralds a new start; it signifies a change in direction and it represents an acknowledgement of what they have been through, what they have testified to and the work of this inquiry.

The Government have accepted the need to act on 19 out of the 20 recommendations. We are accepting the vast majority of them. I hope that that reflects our genuine and real commitment to getting this right. I have also committed today to closely monitor police force data on child sexual abuse, not only to ensure that the police are appropriately prioritising that terrible crime, but to identify where they need partners such as tech companies to improve their response. Let me be clear: we will do whatever it takes and whatever is necessary to protect children from abuse—no ifs and no buts.

Let me issue a few thanks. I put on the record my thanks to my right hon. Friend the Member for Maidenhead (Mrs May) , one of my predecessors, for launching this inquiry, recognising the problem and starting this important work. I put on record my thanks to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education, to my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor and to other Cabinet Ministers who have come together to support this Government response. This issue will require a whole-of-Government, multi-agency response if we are to genuinely protect the interests of children.

Above all, I thank the victims and their families for sharing their stories and for helping us to take this big step forward. I have had the honour of meeting members of the victims and survivors consultative panel; today I met professionals who are working on the frontline, members of the police force and members and employees at the Centre of Expertise on Child Sexual Abuse, hosted at Barnardo’s and funded by the Home Office. I have visited The Lighthouse in Camden, which provides therapeutic support to children who have encountered this kind of horrific abuse, and I have worked with and met the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. I thank all the professionals on the frontline.

Child sexual abuse is a complex issue and its enormity cannot be underestimated. I am enormously grateful to the victims and survivors for their courage. The abuse should never have happened, but I hope that with these changes we will make a difference and prevent future abuse from taking place. We owe that to past victims and their families.

I am grateful to my right hon. and learned Friend for her statement. When I launched the independent inquiry, I said that people would be shocked at the level of abuse of children that had taken place in this country, and indeed the final report showed an appalling and shocking level of abuse—not just historical abuse, but abuse that carries on today. The Government’s response is very important. Those who wish to abuse children will look for opportunities to work with children in order to undertake that abuse. Will my right hon. and learned Friend please give a little more detail about the Government’s response to the recommendations in the report on the Disclosure and Barring Service, including those on the use of the disclosure regime for those working with children overseas and on extending use of the barred list of people who are unsuitable to work with children?

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right to point out that we need to enhance the rigour of scrutiny and standards within the workforce when it comes to professionals who have direct contact with or responsibilities relating to children. That is why several of the recommendations relate to registration. We accept the recommendation on the registration of care staff in residential care. We also accept the recommendation on the registration of staff in young offender institutions and secure training centres, and we are exploring the proposals on how to operate it. We are looking at the recommendations relating to the barred list of people who are unsuitable for work with children, and the recommendation relating to the duties to inform the Disclosure and Barring Service about individuals who might pose a risk. We are accepting those recommendations as well and exploring the ways and the form in which we can deliver them.

I have a long history with IICSA; I was one of the MPs who first lobbied the then Home Secretary for it, and I am incredibly grateful to the right hon. Member for Maidenhead (Mrs May) for commissioning it, but that was seven years ago. That is seven years of victims and survivors laying out their stories, and telling us what we already knew: that this is an epidemic. In that time, the Government could have been doing very practical things to prevent it. The Home Secretary says that she accepts the need to act. That is not the same as acting. She said that victims would have visibility in the work that will be done, and that there would be consultation and monitoring. Where is the funding? Where is the actual getting on with the recommendations? What is the one recommendation that the Home Secretary does not accept? She has not told us that.

I have been fully transparent. I have come to the House today to set out our response, and we are also publishing our detailed response to the inquiry, which sets out the detail that the hon. Lady requests. As for what the Government have done, I reject the accusation that we have not acted. I am very proud of the effort that this Government have made so far to get to the point at which we can accept the vast majority of the recommendations. Now the work starts.

We need to ensure that we get the recommendations right and deliver them in a meaningful way. I do not apologise for taking the time to get that right. Accepting the redress scheme is a landmark commitment that the Government are making today. That will ensure that victims of this heinous crime secure redress. We need to decide what form that will take—not every victim or survivor is the same—and how that redress can be delivered. There are many forms that redress can take. We need to assess what is appropriate for the victims, and listen to survivors, so that we get the scheme right. I am determined to do so.

I welcome the Home Secretary’s statement. IICSA’s final report rightly said that the pace of technological change is of significant concern. Indeed, since the report was published, some seven months ago, we have seen a seismic shift in artificial intelligence. AI is already bringing fantastic benefits for society, but it also brings threats; I know that the Home Secretary is fully aware of that. Those threats are especially acute for children. For instance, huge amounts of AI-generated child sexual abuse imagery are already being created and shared by paedophiles. As we have heard, the report was commissioned by my right hon. Friend the Member for Maidenhead (Mrs May) some eight years ago. It has taken us that long to reach the point of action. In the AI age, we can no longer take so long to act. What processes has the Home Secretary put in place to ensure that her Department and laws keep up with the pace of change of technology?

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right to say that the rapid pace of development in technology is a challenge to grapple with when it comes to protecting children online. I pay tribute to him for standing up for child victims when he was Home Secretary, and taking a stance against this heinous crime. Our Online Safety Bill is making its way through Parliament. It is future-proofed to allow the regulator to keep pace with technological developments. From the Home Office point of view, I am working with the National Crime Agency and GCHQ to identify the new challenges posed by AI. In this field, there are opportunities but also real risks posed by the proliferation of AI, and we need to ensure that our law enforcement agencies are equipped to deal with them.

The Home Secretary stated that the inquiry rightly demands proper leadership and governance when it comes to the protection of children. Another area that demands proper leadership, and where protection is needed, is child criminal exploitation. Sadly, a number of young children who are criminally exploited are sexually exploited as well. Girls are used by criminal gangs. They are gang raped multiple times and asked to perform sexual acts. When those girls report that to the police, they are viewed as gang members; they are not treated as victims. Does the Home Secretary agree that if we are to treat those girls as victims, we need a proper statutory definition of child criminal exploitation?

Child sexual exploitation is abhorrent, and this is part of our response in stamping it out. Since the inquiry published its final report, we have published our Victims and Prisoners Bill, which places new duties on local commissioners to commission sexual violence services according to need, including for children. When the Bill becomes an Act, there will be new powers and strengthened opportunities to enable police and crime commissioners to respond to particular needs in their areas, such as the issues that the hon. Member raises.

I thank the Home Secretary for making the statement to the House and for visiting Rother Valley to meet me and victims of child sexual exploitation only last month. As well as helping survivors of child rape and families such as those who were affected in Rotherham and Rother Valley, we must work to ensure that those who failed in their duties of care may no longer hold positions of authority. Does she agree with the points that I set out in my recent ten-minute rule Bill—the Public Office (Child Sexual Abuse) Bill—which would ensure that nobody who enabled, facilitated or ignored child sexual abuse had any position of authority?

I thank my hon. Friend for his very important campaigning on this issue and for his advocacy for victims. I found it incredibly powerful to visit him in his constituency and to meet campaigners and other victims and survivors of child sexual abuse.

We are introducing the duty to report; that is one of the key recommendations and one of the key measures that we are taking forward. We want to get this right. We need to ensure that those in positions of authority—whether they are in local authorities or are social workers, teachers or police officers—undertake their roles and responsibilities and discharge their duties, and ensure that the right balance is struck in protecting children. Professor Jay makes it clear that a duty can bring about a culture change. That is what I want to see.

I join the Home Secretary and shadow Home Secretary in paying tribute to the brave victims who have come forward as part of this inquiry. Young people in care are some of the most vulnerable members of our society, targeted by abusers because they do not have the support networks that other young people grow up with. Although thousands of foster carers, children’s home staff and others do an amazing job of providing a stable, loving environment, the report highlighted the shocking abuse that many children in local authority care experience. Will the Government accept the inquiry’s recommendation to amend the Children Act 1989, so that the courts can intervene when local councils are not exercising their parental responsibilities properly?

I think the amendment to the Children Act to give parity of legal protection to children in care is the recommendation to which the hon. Member refers, and we accept in spirit the need for parity. We are exploring ways in which we can best empower children in care to challenge what is going wrong in their care through the independent review of children’s social care and national panel reviews. Importantly, we have the national safeguarding review panel, which takes action and looks in depth into serious incidents. That can discharge a lot of the functions that have been called for in this inquiry.

I welcome much of what my right hon. and learned Friend has said this afternoon, but she is right when she observes that this is a question of cultural behaviour. The truth is that state institutions have failed these victims for decades, based on institutional bias against their social background as much as anything else. We know that perpetrators are very clever in seeking out their victims, and in seeking out those who will be believed least. As she pointed out, this requires a whole of Government response to challenge the behaviour of state institutions so that they are more vigilant and take these things seriously.

To probe my right hon. and learned Friend a bit further, how will she achieve a change in behaviour across the criminal justice system? It is only a matter of weeks since she responded to the Casey review, which again showed some of these behaviours. Also, on lifetime therapeutic support for victims, it is now six years since NHS England committed to a lifetime care pathway, yet local commissioners are still not commissioning the necessary services. What can she say this afternoon about ensuring that the Government really do deliver on this and that this does not just sit on the shelf?

I am very cognisant of that risk, and the one thing I want is to be held to account for my words today. I want another update to this House on progress—on delivery of our response—in due course.

In terms of how to bring about a culture change, the report is very clear. I believe that mandatory reporting—a duty, a legal obligation—will direct and force professionals’ minds into a particular way of thinking. That will be accompanied by training, and it must be accompanied by peer support. That is how we will bring about a culture change so that we avoid and eliminate turning a blind eye to apparent problems that are of a heinous nature.

On the support available and what the Government have done already, there have been significant increases in Government funding for victims of sexual violence, including child sexual abuse. The Home Office’s support for victims and survivors of child sexual abuse has got funding of over £4.5 million, and we have distributed that to charities that provide vital support. The NHS long-term plan commits an additional £2.3 billion for the expansion and transformation of mental health services. We now need to ensure that that gets down to the grassroots level and reaches the victims and survivors, but a lot of work has already gone on within Government.

It is estimated that just one in five child victims report to the police, but in my experience in local government, young people who were disclosing that they were being abused needed an independent advocate and an independent voice to go to, so that they would be listened to and treated with sympathy. It is not necessarily reporting to the police that is required, so what can the Home Secretary say about what she is doing to open up those avenues, so that people can report with confidence that they will be listened to?

The issue that the hon. Gentleman raises is precisely the reason why I am a passionate supporter of independent sexual violence advisers, as well as independent domestic violence advisers: they are also relevant for children who are victims of sexual violence. We have already increased the number of ISVAs available to victims of sexual violence, including children, so that when someone makes a complaint and enters the criminal justice system, they will have an independent professional who is on their side to help them navigate a very traumatic and daunting process, who can provide clarity and the vital support that can make the difference between a successful prosecution and an unsuccessful one.

I have previously declared an interest, because I was counsel to the inquiry from 2016 to 2017.

Given that the inquiry looked at cases that were often decades old, there is a risk that we see its conclusions as belonging to the past, rather than the present. One of the recommendations of the inquiry is creating a protective environment for children, and although that will have meant something different in some of the contexts that we looked at, we know now from the Children’s Commissioner that one of the biggest drivers of child sexual exploitation is the ubiquity of violent online porn, particularly when the perpetrator is also a child.

Can I therefore ask the Home Secretary what reassurances she can give that the Online Safety Bill really will protect children from viewing this kind of content? Rather more boldly, could I ask her whether she would consider working with her counterparts at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to regulate the content of some of the big porn providers such as Pornhub, which we know through a body of evidence hosts and promotes child sexual exploitation in some of its online content?

My hon. Friend speaks with expertise, and she raises a very important point with which I agree: the ubiquity, as she puts it, of online pornography and its accessibility by children is a major factor in the incidence of criminal behaviour of this type. The Online Safety Bill will mark a game changer in the protection of children online, and will take us forward in preventing children from accessing this heinous material. Through the Bill, companies will need to take a robust approach to protect children from illegal content and criminal behaviour on their services. They will also need to assess whether their service is likely to be accessed by children and, if so, deliver safety measures for them. Those safety measures will need to protect children, and there will be measures relating to age verification. In my mind, that represents a robust step change in how we protect children online.

As co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group on safeguarding in faith communities, may I thank the Safeguarding Minister, the hon. Member for Derbyshire Dales (Miss Dines), for her letter to our group written on 12 May? We appreciate that there are many recommendation in the inquiry’s final report, and they need careful consideration, but given the years of historical abuse and the years of inquiry, may I urge the Home Secretary to do all that she can to ensure that these wrongs are righted and that we see action, not more consultation, for the victims and survivors, and as quickly as possible?

I want to move as quickly as possible as well, and I want to get it right. For example, with the redress scheme, we have the very helpful starting point of Professor Jay’s recommendation. We have now accepted that recommendation. There are various models around the world of how a redress scheme can operate, such as those in Australia and Scotland and more localised examples. We need to ensure that the right criteria are established, that the process is robust and fair, and that ultimately the victims and survivors get the redress, the justice and the closure that they seek.

I welcome today’s statement, and I put on record my thanks to all those who helped influence the report, particularly the victims of child sexual exploitation. I also thank my right hon. Friend the Member for Maidenhead (Mrs May) for instigating the report.

Unfortunately, child sexual exploitation haunts my community in Keighley, and I have held many a roundtable with victims and their families who have had to go through incredibly traumatic experiences. I thank my right hon. Friend the Member for Witham (Priti Patel) for coming up when she was Home Secretary to listen to some of those terrible stories. One of the things that definitely came across was a lack of trust and the disappearance of trust in the very organisations that should be there to protect the most vulnerable in society, whether that is the police, our local authorities or healthcare systems. That was further illustrated by a report by the Bradford safeguarding partnership in July 2021, which looked at only five children across the Bradford district who had experienced child sexual exploitation. That is why I want to see a full Rotherham-style inquiry into child sexual exploitation across the Bradford district, so that we can get to grips with some of the complexities at a local level.

Will the Home Secretary give a commitment to work with all Departments on this issue? We need a whole of Government approach involving not only the Department for Education but the Department of Health and Social Care and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, because it is only when we all work with those Departments, and at a local level with local authorities and devolved mayoralties, that we can get to grips with and tackle this issue once and for all.

My hon. Friend speaks powerfully, and I pay tribute to him for all his campaigning on behalf of his constituents on this very serious issue. The reports relating to Rochdale, Telford and Rotherham are all very powerful in their conclusions, and they speak to a similar situation to that to which he refers. The mandatory duty seeks to address professionals not taking action by placing a legal obligation on professionals to identify signs and indicators of child sexual abuse, and by providing them with the right training so that they have the know-how to deal with these delicate but devastating matters. It will be a game changer. Professionals on the frontline will have at the forefront of their professional training what child sexual abuse looks like, how to identify it and what action to take to stop it.

The recent appalling court case on the murder of Finley Boden, which led to the conviction of his parents for murder, exposed serious questions about the social work practised at Derbyshire social services and indeed the actions taken by the court. For that reason, the recommendation for the creation of a new child protection authority was very much welcomed. Can the Home Secretary tell us what specific proposed functions of the child protection agency she believes will be better delivered by the Department for Education’s implementation strategy? Why does she believe that approach is better than the creation of a child protection authority, as recommended in this report?

May I put on record my sympathies to the family of the hon. Gentleman’s constituents? When it comes to the child protection authority, we absolutely agree that we need a sharper focus on improving practice in child protection and ensuring that we are all playing our part to keep children safe. Since the inquiry reported, the Department for Education, in responding to the care review, has set out a bold vision for reform of social care and child protections—“Stable Homes, Built on Love”—and the Government are confident that those reforms will deliver the intention behind the inquiry’s recommendation for a new child protection authority.

Can I put on record my tribute to my constituents who gave evidence to IICSA? They relived their trauma so that changes can be made in future and they are among the most courageous people I know.

One of the recommendations from IICSA’s final report is for the introduction of arrangements for the registration of staff working in care roles in children’s homes, including secure children’s homes. This is an obvious practical recommendation that would make a material difference to the safety of children living in local authority care, but it was originally recommended in 2018 and there was really no excuse for the Government not to act at that time to implement it. Since that time, children have continued to suffer abuse and neglect in children’s homes, including those run by the Hesley Group in Doncaster and the Calcot homes in Oxfordshire. Can I ask the Home Secretary why she waited five years to act and can she update the House on the timescale for implementing this very important recommendation?

We accept the meaning and significance of recommendation 7, to which the hon. Member refers, on the registration of staff working in care roles in children’s homes. We are exploring the proposals to introduce professional registration of the residential childcare workforce as part of the “Stable Homes, Built on Love” strategy—key and landmark reforms to our care system. But we recognise the important contribution of the residential childcare workforce in caring for some of the most vulnerable children in our society, and the importance of ensuring that they have the skills required to safeguard, support and care for those children. We are backing them with investment and reform.