13 Oct 2004

When the Children Bill was first published in March we issued a statement expressing serious concerns about the powers of the proposed English Commissioner and their role in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. These concerns remain within the publication of new clauses about the functions of the Commissioner outside of England.

We believe it is invidious to give the English Commissioner a role in relation to promoting awareness of children’s views and interests in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, even concerning reserved matters. This will be confusing for children who do not think in constitutional terms in relation to the issues that affect their lives. We are also concerned about potential confusion and difficulty in giving the English Commissioner a role in relation to holding inquiries into individual cases in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. We would urge the Minister and Parliament to reconsider these clauses from the viewpoint of individual children rather than constitutional tidiness.