26 June 2008
Committee Media Officer: Rebecca Jones
tel: 020 7219 5693
Press Notice No 20
Welsh Affairs Committee publishes its Report on the proposed Legislative Competence Order in Council relating to vulnerable children
The Welsh Affairs Committee today publishes its Report on the proposed Legislative Competence Order in Council (social welfare and other fields), also referred to as the ‘vulnerable children LCO’.
In its Report, the Committee supports the proposed Order, as revised, and agrees that it should be proceeded with, but again urges the Welsh Assembly Government to synchronise the publication and referral of the proposed Order to an Assembly Committee with its referral to Parliament by the Secretary of State. Failure to do so represents the biggest obstacle to effective scrutiny, says the Report.
The Committee commends the aim of the proposed Order to consolidate and rationalise existing legislation relating to vulnerable children which will advance clarity and understanding of the current situation, as well as help reduce gaps in service provision.
There is concern about an apparent gap in service provision for vulnerable children, an issue raised in evidence from the Deputy Children’s Commissioner, following the split in responsibilities between England and Wales for safeguarding and promoting the well-being of children and young people. The proposed Order would not address these gaps, but the Committee recommends that the proposed Order be expanded to include other bodies which work with vulnerable children.
The Committee welcomes the fact that this proposed Order would enable the Welsh Assembly Government to bring forward a Measure so that the Children’s Commissioner for Wales would be accountable to the National Assembly rather than to the Welsh Assembly Government, thereby enhancing the Commissioner’s independence, ensuring transparency and increasing accountability.
In order to preserve the Children’s Commissioner’s role as a prescribed regulator for whistleblowers, the Committee recommends the proposed Order be amended to make it clear that the Order will do nothing to weaken the Commissioner’s existing powers in this regard. The Children’s Commissioner regards this as one of the essential safeguards of child welfare.
The report notes the assurance of the Deputy Minister and the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State that the revised proposed Order would not enable the Welsh Assembly Government to introduce a Measure removing the defence of “reasonable chastisement” relating to the punishment of children.
The Chairman of the Welsh Affairs Committee, Dr Hywel Francis MP, said:
“I am pleased that this scrutiny has been completed thoroughly and speedily by my Committee. Whilst joint scrutiny has not been possible on this occasion, I worked closely with the Chair of the Assembly Committee, Karen Sinclair, and we have benefited enormously from the evidence her Committee gathered.
This is the third LCO report my Committee has published in seven months, and considerable progress is being made on a fourth, on housing.
This means we are on schedule in scrutinising the four to five LCOs we anticipated completing in a given Parliamentary Session. This is a significant achievement for our select committee, whose work has increased significantly in the last year, and I wish to place on record my thanks to Members for their hard work and commitment.”
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Committee Membership is as follows: Dr Hywel Francis MP (Chairman), David T. C. Davies MP, Nia Griffith MP, Mrs Siân C. James MP, Mr David Jones MP, Mr Martyn Jones MP, Rt Hon Alun Michael MP, Albert Owen MP, Mr Mark Pritchard MP, Mr Hywel Williams MP, Mark Williams MP
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