Children’s Green Paper delayed by PM

The children’s green paper has been delayed again and will
not now be published before September, 10 Downing Street has

At a press briefing last week, the prime minister’s
official spokesman said it would be published “early after
recess”. The official explanation for the latest delay is
that Tony Blair wishes to be personally associated with the green
paper, and would be “standing beside” Department for
Education and Skills children’s minister Margaret Hodge when
it was lodged. His diary commitments made this impossible before
parliament’s summer recess, which begins on 17 July.

The green paper was first announced by Tony Blair in October
2002 when the focus was to be preventive services to children at
risk. The consultation paper was originally scheduled to be
published in January this year but it has been delayed several
times. Following the Laming report into the death of Victoria
Climbie the focus has shifted to child protection, and it is now
described on the Number Ten web site as the “child protection
green paper” although it is expected to cover a wide range of
services for children. 

Chief secretary to the Treasury Paul Boateng has taken
cabinet-level responsibility for the green paper from the start,
with a succession of ministers in the Home Office taking day-to-day

When Margaret Hodge was appointed on 13 June both Number Ten and
the Department for Education and Skills announced that the green
paper would be launched before the recess. There has been
speculation that the latest delay was caused by the recent
controversy over Hodge’s appointment because of abuse in
Islington children’s homes when she was leader of the borough
council ten years ago. But it has also been suggested that the
Department for Education and Skills asked for the delay because
they wanted to make a bigger contribution to the draft before it
was published.

The summer parliamentary recess ends on 8 September, but is
followed by another three week recess from 18 September for the
party conferences.

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