Health minister John Hutton promised to keep under review the
possibility of appointing a children’s rights commissioner
for England, after a Labour MP agreed to withdraw his private
members bill on the subject.
The bill, which was debated in the House of Commons, was put
forward by former Lancashire social worker Hilton Dawson, who
became MP for Lancaster and Wyre in 1997.
Hutton told Parliament he would “consider carefully the Welsh
experience to see whether there are any other lessons that we can
learn in England that could help to provide better safeguards for
children” and keep the commissioner issue “under review”.
Speaking after the debate, Dawson told Community Care that he
had “no doubt” that a children’s commissioner for England
would be introduced if Labour was re-elected. But he said he was
“infuriated” by slow progress and would prefer to see it become
part of the election manifesto.
Dawson said it made sense to have a children’s rights
commissioner for all children in England as well as a
children’s rights director – due to be in post by the end of
the year – specifically responsible for “the most vulnerable
children in our society”.
* The powers of the Welsh children’s commissioner, as
outlined in the Children’s Commissioner for Wales Bill, have
been extended thanks to an amendment introduced at the House of
Lords. The amendment would widen the commissioner’s remit to
give him a role in policies and services not devolved to the
National Assembly – including youth justice and social
Assembly health minister Jane Hutt said: “This amendment will
allow the Assembly to implement our essential vision of the
commissioner as a champion of all children in Wales.”