A Home Office minister has said police must "go where the evidence takes" them, amid concerns over an investigation linked to former prime minister Sir Edward Heath.

Sarah Newton also told the Commons that police forces have the necessary resources to support investigations into claims of historical sexual abuse of children.

Her remarks came after Conservative MP John Glen (Salisbury) said there has been speculation over how an inquiry is taking place in Wiltshire.

The county's force is leading on Operation Conifer, which started in August 2015 to investigate allegations of child abuse made against Sir Edward, who led a Conservative government between 1970 and 1974 and died at home in Salisbury in July 2005, aged 89.

Wiltshire Police said earlier this month that the operation is investigating a "number of separate allegations", adding it also aims to protect children and vulnerable adults who may be at risk of abuse today and "where relevant, bring living offenders to justice".

The Sunday Times at the weekend reported fresh concerns have been raised over Operation Conifer, with Conservative James Gray (North Wiltshire) telling the newspaper: "I have seen no evidence that he (Heath) was guilty of any kind of crime.

"If this turns out to be serious crimes a la Jimmy Savile then of course I will be the first to support what Wiltshire police are doing. But if, on the other hand, it is a put-up job then I will be the first to call for the chief constable's head."

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Glen told Ms Newton: "There's been speculation over the weekend about the way an inquiry is taking place in Wiltshire.

"And there's always a significant risk when events might have happened a long time ago and evidence is difficult to corroborate and high profile figures are involved that somehow things should just be left.

"Would you assure this House that when victims give evidence, though it might be difficult to corroborate that evidence and it might have taken a long time ago, that our chief constables and investigating officers up and down this country should go where the evidence takes them?

"And will you commit to ensure sufficient resources are made available, such that every day policing is not affected when these serious matters happen in individual constabularies?"

Ms Newton replied: "You make a very powerful point and I can absolutely give you the assurance that you're looking for - that we absolutely must go where the evidence takes it.

"This can be very painful for people to revisit terrible things that happened in the past, but I will encourage them - like I'm sure you are - to come forward, go to the police, do give that evidence.

"In terms of resources for policing, it has been given the status of one of the most important police functions in our country now and the police do have the resources to be able to support investigations into historical sexual abuse of children."

The exchanges took place during an urgent question on the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse.