Vote on children's champion urged


The NSPCC last week called on the Government to stop prevaricating and appoint a children's commissioner in England. The call was made following a report by the parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights which said 'the Government's arguments for further delay do not carry conviction'.

The NSPCC last week called on the Government to stop prevaricating and appoint a children's commissioner in England.

The call was made following a report by the parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights which said 'the Government's arguments for further delay do not carry conviction'.

Liz Atkins, NSPCC head of policy and public affairs, urged the Government to make an appointment by Christmas and a commitment in the autumn Queen's speech. She said, 'A children's commissioner would be a milestone in helping inspire a culture in which all children are loved, respected and well provided for and valued within society.'

The committee, representing both houses of parliament, said in its ninth report, 'A children's commissioner is not the answer to all the problems that children face, but it can be a channel through which the voice of children can be heard more clearly. An independent human rights institution for children is, we believe, a necessary catalyst for change, not a sufficient excuse for others to neglect their responsibilities to respect and advance the rights of the child.'

The committee cited the commissioner's potential role 'in encouraging the greater participation of children in developing effective anti-bullying strategies and in disseminating best practice within schools'. It acknowledged Government concerns that a commissioner should not duplicate existing mechanisms for the protection of children and the promotion of their welfare. But it insisted that a commissioner would not be a substitute for such mechanisms and 'will not have the power to usurp parents'.

The committee noted that because there were four times as many children in England as in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland put together, a different approach and structure might be needed from the commissioner's role in those three countries.

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