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Written Ministerial Statements

Wednesday 11 January 2006

CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS

Adoption and Children Act (Representation of Children)

The Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Ms Harriet Harman): The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, the Baroness Ashton of Upholland has made the following written ministerial statement in the other place today


 
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EDUCATION AND SKILLS

Safeguarding Children/Vulnerable Adults

The Secretary of State for Education and Skills (Ruth Kelly): The protection of children is a top priority for this Government. The case which has come to public attention this week raises very serious issues.

I take full responsibility for all decisions taken in the Department on whether individuals should be placed on LIST 99, the list covering those barred working in schools.

The LIST 99 barring scheme is a process that has operated for decades. In a number of specified serious offences an individual will automatically be included on LIST 99. Initial inquiries indicate that there have been a small number of cases where, on the basis of advice, in accordance with the process that has been in operation for many years, Ministers have made the decision not to include on LIST 99 an individual on the Sex Offenders Register.

It is of the utmost importance that the House and wider public are not misled by any information put into the public domain. I have therefore decided to commission as a matter of urgency an exhaustive review of all such cases since the introduction of the Sex Offenders Register in 1997—a register which provides an additional safeguard for prospective employers. I will also review the decision-making process surrounding such cases and any immediate policy implications. For example, I will consider:

I will make a further statement to the House shortly.

The Government are already committed to implementing Sir Michael Bichard's recommendations to tighten the system for vetting and barring those who wish to work with children and vulnerable adults and to bringing forward legislation in this session of Parliament.

In the meantime, with immediate effect, I will personally consider any cases of individuals on the Sex Offenders Register where a Ministerial decision is required as to whether they should be placed on LIST 99.

HEALTH

Mental Health Act Commission

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Ms Rosie Winterton): The Mental Health Act Commission's 11th biennial report entitled "In Place of Fear?" was laid before Parliament today.

Copies have been placed in the Library.