Several important developments have taken place over the last 24 hours, so we’re adding a summary for you:

Australia’s Royal Commission Into Nationwide Child Abuse Comes To An End

A landmark moment in Australia’s history, and for victims of child sexual abuse in the country, as its five year investigation into child abuse draws to a close. As you might imagine, serious failings were highlighted in the Commission’s report. Here are the key messages being featured by the media:

Report Urges Greater Scrutiny And Accountability Of Local Authorities

A Committee report has been published today, which urges the government to put proper review and scrutiny procedures in place for local authorities in England and Wales. This has important implications for the child protection services councils offer, and the way in which they deal with complaints about those services, which is notoriously poor.

This is what Clive Betts, Chair of the Communities and Local Government Committee, had to say:

“Scrutiny is marginalised at too many local authorities, which in extreme cases can contribute to severe service failures, letting down council taxpayers and those that rely on services.

Scrutiny of those in power is a vital part of any democratic system and has huge benefits for all. We are calling on the Government to strengthen guidance to make overview and scrutiny committees truly independent of those they are charged with holding to account and to make sure the process is properly funded and respected.

Only by rebalancing the system and ensuring scrutiny is held in high esteem will we see better decisions and the outcomes that residents who pay for council services deserve.”

Useful links:

Ministry of Justice And Department Of Education, ‘Cause For Concern’

And finally, another report, this time produced by The Procedure Committee, has highlighted The Department Of Education and The Ministry Of Justice as poorly performing government bodies when it comes to their response rates to Parliamentary Questions. Those of you following these questions in the House will be aware that most of the time, these bodies just can’t answer the questions put before them in good time. And part of that it is to do with their inability to keep basic data.

Chair of the Procedure Committee, Mr Charles Walker OBE MP’s observations:

“The role of Parliamentary questions in the scrutiny of Government policies cannot be overstated, so it is disappointing that some departments continue to provide an unacceptably high number of late answers.

If these departments do not improve this session then our committee looks forward to the Ministers responsible providing an explanation and presenting a clear action plan to ensure improvements.

I am encouraged to see that some departments that have previously had poor response rates have improved their performance in response to the Committee’s scrutiny.

While the timeliness of responses is of importance to Members, the quality of those answers is just as vital. The Committee will be launching an exercise to monitor the quality of answers provided by departments, and we look forward to receiving the views of Members from across the House.”

Have a great weekend.

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