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Children and Young People Committee Established, 17/10/07 [W]

Children in Wales welcomes the establishment of an Assembly Scrutiny Committee for Children and Young People as agreed by the National Assembly for Wales yesterday. Children in Wales also welcomes the members of the Committee and hopes to work closely with them in the future.

Children in Wales, the national membership body, lobbied for such a Committee because it is essential that the impact of all Assembly Government policies on children and young people are scrutinised if their lives are to be improved. This includes policies that might not normally be thought of as being directly relevant to children on topics such as transport, the environment and rural issues as well as those more directly linked like social services, health and education.

The Committee could also be responsible for considering the progress made on the Annual Reports from the Children’s Commissioner for Wales. Prior to the implementation of the Government of Wales Act 2006, the Children’s Commissioner for Wales was accountable to the Assembly as a whole. It is now extremely important that there is a Committee with this responsibility.

During the previous Assembly term, there was considerable interest in children and young people’s issues in different WAG Ministerial portfolios, however one of the issues was the plethora of policies that were not necessarily co-ordinated and could occasionally contradict or undermine each other.  This made it difficult for the service deliverers in the field to implement these policies.  A single Committee scrutinising activity relating to children and young people should be effective in addressing this. It is particularly timely in the light of the Children Act 2004 that puts into statute the requirement for agencies to work together and to pool budgets.  It is therefore essential that Assembly Government policies reflect this and that there is scrutiny by the Assembly. 

Catriona Williams, Chief Executive says:

“Having campaigned solidly since the elections and over the summer for a Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Committee, I and Children in Wales’ members are delighted that such a Committee will now be established.  It is a hugely significant development that should be able to monitor implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in Wales. Significantly it is probably one of the first cross cutting Parliamentary Committees in Europe whose sole purpose is to focus on children and young people’s rights.”

The committee will be a National Assembly for Wales Scrutiny Committee.  These committees have the power to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Assembly Government and associated public bodies.   The National Assembly for Wales has four other scrutiny committees, namely the Communities and Culture Committee, the Enterprise and Learning Committee, the Health, Wellbeing and Local Government Committee and the Sustainability Committee.

Lynne Neagle AM, Christine Chapman AM, Helen Mary Jones AM, Angela Burns AM and Eleanor Burnham AM have been elected as members of the Committee.