It’s a depressing state of affairs when a fully packed chamber, filled with ministers during Prime Minister’s Question Time, suddenly empties when the topic of child welfare comes up.
And yet that’s exactly what happened when Theresa May gave her update on the nation’s child abuse inquiry, yesterday. It was not an insignificant moment or a routine formality, either. The Home Secretary was making a much-anticipated, ground breaking announcement relating to the inquiry which saw her reveal for the first time, the new status the inquiry would hold and, for the last time, a final Chair to lead that inquiry.
Worse still, a large number of female ministers chose to make a hasty exit before Miss May gave her address, giving the distinct impression that they too were occupied with far more pressing matters than child sexual abuse. In a world where women have for the most part had to champion the protection and promotion of child welfare, it was an inexcusable display of indifference.
That indifference though was clearly not present during the first part of the session, where the House which was unusually packed to the rafters sparred over election fodder, from party sponsors to pledges. But once those matters which did not impact directly on their livelihoods came to an end, it seemed our politicians’ interest in the nation’s welfare did too.
Here is a screen shot of MPs discussing election matters on Wednesday:
And here is a screen shot showing MPs taking part in the debate on the nation’s child abuse inquiry:
It takes MPs less than a minute to leave the chamber virtually empty before May makes her statement (You can see this happening at 12:36:00 of the video). Visibly absent are Prime Minister David Cameron and other senior politicians, whom you can see getting up and leaving by the Speaker’s exit.
On another note, as Theresa May promised yesterday, The House of Commons library has now published a briefing paper offering general background information on the Inquiry, which you can access here.
*We watched Prime Minister’s Questions ourselves, and can confirm that these images are an accurate representation of the proceedings.