Clause 4 - Inquiries initiated by the Commissioner

Part of Children Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:30 pm on 14th October 2004.

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Photo of Roger Williams Roger Williams Opposition Whip (Commons) 2:30 pm, 14th October 2004

It is a great pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Dame Marion. We have reached almost a stalemate. The arguments have been made on both sides and there seems to be little give. I was disappointed that the Minister was unable to give any comfort to the hon. Member for Cardiff, North that changes could be made between the Committee and Report stages.

It is not right to legislate on the basis of the worst possible scenario. In this case, the worst possible scenario would be an English commissioner at complete loggerheads with a commissioner in Wales, resulting in turf wars. I am sure that there is plenty of provision in the Bill for sorting out that situation. However, neither is it right to legislate on the basis of the best scenario, which would be of a happy, charming Minister in the Wales Office, a charming Minister in the appropriate Department and commissioners who get on well together and are able to work for the benefit of children. It is therefore important for the Bill to provide a better idea of how things will work in practice. The Minister tells us that it is fine, and that it is working in practice. However, the legislation does not concur with what is happening at present; if there were greater concurrence, the state of affairs would be happier for children in Wales and in England.