National agency queried by commissioner

The children’s commissioner for Wales, Peter Clarke, has
criticised Lord Laming’s key recommendation for a new
national agency for children and families.

Laming’s proposal calls for the agency to be led by a
chief executive who “incorporates the responsibilities of a
children’s commissioner for England”, and would also include
a ministerial children and families board chaired by a cabinet

However, Clarke said an essential element of any commissioner is
complete independence from government.

“My suggestion is therefore that the title of
‘children’s commissioner’ should be dropped, and
that the separate argument about the need for a truly independent
commissioner for England still stands,” he added.

Clarke said that a commissioner could not take responsibility
for both children and their families because their interests
sometimes conflict, particularly where family members are harming
children. He added that the English commissioner’s remit only
seemed to extend to serious case reviews as outlined under the
Children Act 1989; whereas he is able to consider any matter
affecting any child resident in Wales.

Meanwhile, Scottish minister for young people Kathy Jamieson has
pledged to give careful consideration to Laming’s
recommendations and any subsequent government response to them.

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