Your Royal Highness, Ladies and Gentlemen. I am delighted and honoured to be here this morning to launch a campaign that I believe will be something very special. Something that is going to make a difference.
Something that Jim Harding has just said sticks in my mind. Cruelty to children is not inevitable. It can be prevented. We can act effectively to tackle it. There is hope. We cannot and will not be deflected from ending it.
Child poverty is one issue. I have no doubt the circumstances in which a child is brought up, play a huge part in their development. It is the reason for the focus of policy on social exclusion. Kids brought up in a culture of family instability, drugs, crime, poor housing and education, long-term unemployment. All these problems need to be confronted head-on. In other words, we must have both hope and ambition.
By the end of this Parliament, we aim to lift 700,000 children out of poverty.
All this will help. But it needs more. This campaign has one Big Idea. It is a long-term idea. It is that children are everybody's responsibility.
It is about personal, professional and public responsibility for children. That is, our responsibility. Everyone's responsibility.
Because ending cruelty is not just in the interests of children themselves. It is in everyone's interest.
The Full Stop Campaign's goal is to end child cruelty. But it is much more than that. It is about ending cruelty and replacing it - where it exists - with positive support for parents. I therefore wholehearted endorse a strategy based on:
better access to help and advice for everyone - children and parents alike through schools, helplines, the internet and local community organisations and networks and through particular initiatives like making parks and open spaces safer for children and providing a birthpack which gives guidance to new parents, for every baby born in the new millennium.
The Government is complementing what you are doing now. We have already put in place tough legislation on sex offenders. We will support the Private Member's Bill sponsored by Deborah Shipley, which will for the first time put the Department of Health's Consultancy Index on a statutory footing and help to unsuitable prevent adults from working with children.
A 540 million programme Sure Start will be available to local partnerships to deliver support services, including family support, childcare, primary healthcare, early learning and play. Some of these services may be provided in the home. The Sure Start programme will help children be ready to thrive when they reach school. Each programme will service the local community within 'pram pushing' distance.
We are also undertaking a far reaching programme to improve the quality of services for vulnerable children at risk or in care. The 'Quality Protects' Programme to transform the quality of children's care will be backed by a special grant of 375million.
Through this, we will take steps to strengthen the regulatory system to ensure that all children's homes and fostering agencies are subject to welfare inspections. We will establish a new Regional Commission for Care Standards to make sure that children's services are properly licensed and inspected.
We are doing this because children are central to our overall agenda for social policy. We need to break the cycle of disadvantage so that children born into poverty, or let down by the education system, or abused, are not condemned to social exclusion and deprivation in adulthood. So throughout their childhood, children must get a better deal.
As Prince Andrew said, as a father he supports this campaign. It is as a father I support this campaign. The government supports this campaign.
The private passion we feel for our children should become the public passion we feel for our children.
I believe ending cruelty to children is the right idea at the right time. It is the best way to invest in the future. We all have a part to play. Let it be our ambition for Britain for the new Millennium.