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

As I have said, I am not going to go into the details of conversations in corridors or of how the Committee operated on that day-that is a matter for the Committee rather than for me. The hon. Gentleman raises a wider issue of importance, however. I was operating in accordance with the guidance, which had been discussed with Select Committee Chairs. I had to make a decision, and I did so on the basis of the Nolan process. I nominated my candidate, who was then to appear before the Select Committee for questioning. It is made very clear in the guidance that only in the most exceptional cases would the Committee not endorse the candidate, but it is also right to have proper scrutiny. It will be for others to judge, on the basis of the Committee report, the transcript and my report, whether this was an exceptional case. I have to say that that was not the view that I reached on the basis of my reading, and the fact that Maggie Atkinson is so widely supported by children's organisations around the country for her independence, strength and integrity leads me to believe that for me to have rejected the Nolan independent process, and the unanimous proposal from that process in respect of this job, would have been the wrong thing to do, but-

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