Jacob Rees-Mogg said it is “not good enough” that authorities always say lessons will be learned from cruel treatment of vulnerable children, following the death of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes.
The Commons Leader told MPs he found it “almost impossible” to read news stories about six-year-old Arthur because it made him think of his own children.
Arthur’s stepmother, Emma Tustin, 32, was jailed for life at Coventry Crown Court last week, with a minimum term of 29 years, after being found guilty of his murder, while his father, Thomas Hughes, 29, was sentenced to 21 years for manslaughter.
Mr Rees-Mogg said: “I think the angels weep over what happened to little Arthur. It is so just mortifyingly sad to see those pictures of that sweet little boy who was so brutally treated.”
He added: “I have got this in my notes today that I am meant to say that ‘lessons will be learned’, but that is what we always say and it is not good enough. We need to protect little children.”
The Commons Leader was responding to calls for a debate from Labour MP Rachael Maskell (York Central) to resolve “once and for all” the mistreatment of vulnerable children.
In his answer, he continued: “Are there easy solutions? No. Are there problems that we can identify? Were there issues that Covid meant people weren’t going out to work?
“Why do you think I keep on saying in this House that there are jobs that people need to do face-to-face?
“People have to get out and do some of their jobs. There are limitations on who can work from home, not try and turn that into people whose jobs are essentially done out of the home.
“There are so many things that need to be put right – that the spirit is certainly willing – but can I promise her that tragedies won’t happen again? No of course I can’t.”
He added: “But as I said, the sadness over Arthur is – I find it almost impossible to read the news stories – because thinking of the children that I know, my own children, and how could somebody behave like that? I sympathise entirely with what she says.”
Ms Maskell had said: “In York, I am really worried about vulnerable children and children at risk. I am very worried about vulnerable parents. I am very worried about social workers working in children’s services. And I am very worried about the level of funding which is going towards those services.
“I don’t want to hear that we have to have another serious case review, and that we have to learn lessons again. We have heard that too many times.
“Can we have a debate about children within the care system and the risks that are faced and how we resolve this issue once and for all?”