President of the Association of Directors of
Social Services Mike Leadbetter has backed the idea of a children’s
commissioner for England in oral evidence to the parliamentary
joint committee on human rights.
told the committee, which is considering whether a human rights
commission should be set up for the UK, that he would opt for a
children’s commissioner in preference to either a minister for
children or a specialist within the proposed new human rights
children’s commissioner would have a responsibility to keep
children’s needs at the top of the agenda, he said, adding that
such a role would raise the profile of children.
told the panel that it was still too early to assess the success of
the Welsh children’s commissioner’s post. Although he acknowledged
that the alternatives were viable, he expressed concern that the
specialist children’s human rights commissioner would be delayed
while the rest of the body was set up. A minister for children
would need an exclusive remit without other ministerial
responsibilities, he warned, if they were to put children’s needs
Leadbetter told the committee
that a children’s commissioner would need quite significant powers
to force agencies, councillors and individuals to act in the best
interests of children.