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Children's Commissioner

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Work and Pensions – in the House of Commons at 3:30 pm on 19th October 2009.

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Photo of Edward Balls Edward Balls Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families 3:30 pm, 19th October 2009

The point is that we have the Nolan process, which was set up on the recommendation of Lord Nolan before 1997 and which operates in the normal way. There were 40 candidates, and they went through that normal process. There was one independent member of the panel, Sir Paul Ennals, who said that Maggie Atkinson was the most fiercely independent of all the candidates. I understand that there was also-as is completely normal-a civil servant from my Department and a civil servant from another Department in Whitehall. [Interruption.] If the Conservatives do not support the Nolan process as well as not supporting the Children's Commissioner, they ought to come clean rather than playing these games.

The fact is that we supported the Nolan process, and Maggie Atkinson was unanimously judged to be the best candidate for the job. Did I reject her? Did I go for person No. 2 or No. 3 on the list? Did I decide not to go for the most fiercely independent person? No, I did not; I did the right thing, which was to choose the strongest advocate for children and young people. That is what the Children's Commissioner is all about, and that is why the Conservative party is so fearful of the role.

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