Speaking in reply to a question in the House of Commons John Major said:
'I am personally horrified by some of the events that have been reported. Children in residential care are among the most vulnerable members of our society.
'My right honourable friends have been considering what action they will take and their proposals were agreed at Cabinet this morning. My right honourable friend the secretary of state for Wales is finalising the arrangements for an inquiry to address what happened in North Wales, under the Tribunal of Inquiry Act 1921.
Health secretary Stephen Dorrell said:
'The recent convictions of people for sexual offences against children placed in their care have caused outrage. Most of the convictions have been for offences committed many years ago. Since then, safeguards have been tightened. Nevertheless, it is vital to be wary and to be ready to assess carefully whether the safeguards provide the protection they should.
'I have asked Sir William Utting, a member of Lord Nolan's Commission on the Standards of Conduct in Public Life and a former chief inspector of the social services inspectorate for England, to conduct this review. His review will be independent and his report will be published. I will announce full details early next week.'
Under the 1989 Children Act, councils already have a clear duty to investigate allegations of child abuse with the help of the police and other agencies. A number of cases against former child care workers are still before the courts.