Children's Commissioner for Wales Bill — 16 Jan 2001

Dominic Grieve MP, Beaconsfield voted in the minority (Aye).

Order for Second Reading read.

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

The Bill forms a major part of the strategy of the National Assembly for Wales to promote and safeguard the rights and welfare of children in Wales. The Bill also has considerable constitutional significance. It is the first Wales-only Bill to be introduced since the establishment of the National Assembly. It also represents the Assembly breaking new ground in devising a policy to create the first Children's Commissioner in the United Kingdom. Its introduction represents a very significant achievement for the devolution process in Wales and it proves that Wales can bring about radical change via Westminster.

That this House declines to give a Second Reading to the . . . Bill.

We draw the attention of Parliament also to the abuse suffered by B between the ages of 16 years and 18 years . . . Much of the later abuse was not inflicted by persons in a position of trust in relation to him and there can be no doubt that he was significantly corrupted and damaged by what occurred.

A fully effective Children's Commissioner will offer great support to parents without undermining the responsibility of the family in any way. The example of parents of children with special needs illustrates this. They will find a great friend and champion in the Children's Commissioner, and good wholesome family life will be enhanced as a result.

I was certainly not aware of any difference. Subsequently I found out there was a difference of emphasis but we are not going to change our position. We are not going to stand on our heads for anybody.

I re-emphasise that there is no conflict between my view and that of colleagues in the Welsh Assembly--[ Official Report, Welsh Grand Committee , 11 December 2000; c. 26.]

asserts the importance of the family in protecting and nurturing children and therefore believes that the remit of the Children's Commissioner should relate exclusively to children's services provided by public and other agencies.

(a) ensuring that children's rights are respected through the monitoring and oversight of the operation of complaints and whistleblowing procedures and the arrangements for children's advocacy;

(b) examining the handling of individual cases brought to the Commissioner's attention (including making recommendations on the merits) when he considers it necessary and appropriate to do so;

(c) publishing reports, including an annual report to the National Assembly for Wales.

The Bill falls short of the aspirations of the Assembly's vision of the Children's Commissioner as an independent champion . . . ?

give the Commissioner a right to comment on non-devolved matters and cross-border services.

I remind the Secretary of State that the final part of our reasoned amendment says that the Bill

fails to take account of the responsibility of UK public bodies and agencies which are not subject to oversight by the National Assembly for Wales.

The NSPCC welcomes the Children's Commissioner for Wales Bill. It is a welcome attempt to improve the wellbeing of Wales' children.

The appointment of a Children's Commissioner in Wales and the broadening of his powers in the Children's Commissioner for Wales Bill is unanimously welcomed by children's organisations working in Wales.

I beg to move, To leave out from "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:

"this House declines to give a Second Reading to the Children's Commissioner for Wales Bill because it fails to assert the importance of the family in protecting and nurturing children; it fails to give families confidence that the Children's Commissioner will

We lack an independent office mandated to protect the interests of children in general on all matters of public policy and administration that affect their lives. Children need a strong independent national office to represent their interests comprehensively.

This little girl was murdered by people who were supposed to be caring for her, but she was let down by the system that was supposed to be protecting her.

The Government are committed to providing a children's rights director only for looked-after children. We believe that the provision should go further. Almost all children's charities and professionals support the idea of a children's commissioner. The model that I suggest would allow protection and advocacy without interfering in the rights of parents.--[ Official Report , 18 May 2000; Vol. 350, c. 496.]

we have also tabled an amendment that would delete the role of children's rights director and establish separate English and Welsh children's commissioners on an equivalent basis.--[ Official Report, Standing Committee G , 4 July 2000; c. 663.]

the Assembly affirms its beliefs that the Children's Commissioner for Wales should have statutory powers across all areas affecting all children in Wales, and that his or her powers should include:

Power to require inquiries

Powers to order disclosure of information

Powers to require action to be taken by public authorities and bodies, in accordance with their own duties.

fails to give families confidence that the Children's Commissioner will protect the interests of their children whilst not impinging on the rights and responsibilities of parents . . .

However, we recognise that such a proposal would be subject to negotiation with the UK Government.

fails to assert the importance of the family,

The well-being of children requires political action at the highest level.

A Children's Commissioner needs to be able to start from the point of view of the child, and use the statutory powers in order to ensure the best possible outcomes for children.

an over-arching aim of promoting and upholding the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

promote the rights and welfare of children.

requiring persons . . . to provide the Commissioner with . . . other assistance.

We urge the Assembly to appoint a Children's Commissioner in Wales without delay.

The vulnerability of children looked after by local authorities has been highlighted by the North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal. We welcome the National Assembly's swift response to the Tribunal's report and the priority which it is giving to meeting the recommendations made.

We were impressed by the work being done by the Children's Rights Service in North Wales (whom we visited in Wrexham) both in providing advocacy for children looked after, and, more particularly, in assisting them in speaking up for themselves. We suggest that all local authorities--and, more particularly, the children in their care--could benefit from an independent Children's Rights Service similar to those already in operation in some parts of Wales.

The widest possible functions in respect of non-devolved policies and services should be explored and, as a minimum, the Commissioner should be able to consider and make representations in respect of any non-devolved matters affecting children in Wales in a way similar to the Assembly's right under section 33 of the Government of Wales Act.

Therefore, it seems that the Assembly takes a similar view to Members in this House. I suspect that the issue does not cause the Minister and the Government much difficulty, but we must be careful to be consistent in what we ask of the commissioner and ensure that any enabling amendments that we table are consistent with the general constitutional arrangements of the United Kingdom.

When I said that there were no differences I was certainly not aware of any difference. Subsequently I found out that there was a difference of emphasis but we are not going to change our position. We are not going to stand on our heads for anybody.

how many children have been reported as missing in each of the last 20 years.

what estimate he has made of the number of children involved in prostitution in each of the last 20 years.

The Home Office does not collect data on the number of children involved in prostitution.

the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many companies were prosecuted for illegally employed children in each of the last 20 years.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many children have been reported as missing in each of the last 20 years.

Figures are not available to confirm the precise numbers of children reported missing each year . . .--[ Official Report , 11 December 2000; Vol. 359, c. 55-64W.]

to allow children a statutory companion in one part of the United Kingdom, but to deny similar protection to the rest. The NSPCC believes the needs of children do not differ significantly across the United Kingdom and similar posts must be created in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

We recommend that there should be a Children's Rights Commissioner within the UK . . .

I do not believe that there is any dividing line as such . . . I believe that the appointment does not supplant, but enhances the role of the family . . .--[ Official Report , 13 December 2000; Vol. 359, c. 624.]

That this House declines to give a Second reading to the Children's Commissioner for Wales Bill.

That this House declines to give a Second Reading to the Children's Commissioner for Wales Bill.

because it fails to assert the importance of the family in protecting and nurturing children . . .

Question put, That the amendment be made:--

The House proceeded to a Division.

The House having divided: Ayes 139, Noes 339.

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Party Summary

Votes by party, red entries are votes against the majority for that party.

What is Tell? '+1 tell' means that in addition one member of that party was a teller for that division lobby.

What are Boths? An MP can vote both aye and no in the same division. The boths page explains this.

What is Turnout? This is measured against the total membership of the party at the time of the vote.

PartyMajority (No)Minority (Aye)BothTurnout
Con0 139 (+2 tell)088.1%
Lab300 (+2 tell) 0072.4%
LDem32 0068.1%
PC3 0075.0%
SNP1 0016.7%
UUP3 0033.3%
Total:339 139075.0%

Rebel Voters - sorted by party

MPs for which their vote in this division differed from the majority vote of their party. You can see all votes in this division, or every eligible MP who could have voted in this division

Sort by: Name | Constituency | Party | Vote

NameConstituencyPartyVote
no rebellions

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