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Children's Rights Commissioner Bill




Provide for the establishment of a children's rights commissioner to promote the rights and interests of children in England; to make provision for the powers and duties of the commissioner; and for related purposes.

BE IT ENACTED by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:-

Appointment and staff of Commissioner.     1. - (1) There shall be a Children's Rights Commissioner, who shall be appointed by Her Majesty on the recommendation of the Secretary of State.
      (2) Before making such a recommendation the Secretary of State shall consult such persons as appear to him to be appropriate.
      (3) The Commissioner-
    (a) shall be appointed for a period of five years;
    (b) shall hold office during that period unless-
      (i) relieved at his own request; or
      (ii) removed by Her Majesty in consequence of addresses from both Houses of Parliament;
    (c) at the end of a term of appointment shall be eligible for reappointment.
      (4) The Commissioner may appoint such staff as he thinks fit to assist with the discharge of his functions; and any function of the Commissioner may be performed by any member of his staff authorised for that purpose by the Commissioner.
      (5) The Commissioner and the Commissioner's staff shall not be regarded as agents or servants of the Crown.
Duties and guiding principles.     2. - (1) The Commissioner shall be under a duty-
    (a) to promote the rights and interests of children;
    (b) to seek to ensure that the rights and interests of children are properly taken into account by Ministers of the Crown, government departments, local authorities, other public bodies and voluntary and private organisations when decisions on policies affecting children are taken;
    (c) to promote compliance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child as ratified by Her Majesty's Government and subject to such reservations as Her Majesty's Government made on ratification, unless subsequently withdrawn; and
    (d) to seek to ensure that children have effective means of redress if their rights are disregarded by any body referred to in paragraph (b).
      (2) In exercising these functions the Commissioner shall have regard to-
    (a) the principles laid down in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and in such other international treaties, conventions or agreements which have been ratified or otherwise acceded to by Her Majesty's Government and which affect children;
    (b) the need to maintain direct contact with children and children's organisations, to pay particular regard to the views of children and to promote respect for the views of children throughout society;
    (c) the need to ensure co-ordination between different bodies (including government departments) which provide services for children; and
    (d) the need to consult from time to time other persons seeking to promote the rights and interests of children.
Annual reports.     3. - (1) As soon as practicable after the end of each calendar year the Commissioner shall submit an annual report on his activities during the year to the Secretary of State.
      (2) An annual report shall include a general description of the circumstances of children in England and a survey of developments which have affected them during the period of the report.
      (3) The Secretary of State shall lay a copy of each annual report before both Houses of Parliament and shall cause the report to be published.
Recommendations and compliance notices.     4. - (1) The Commissioner may make other reports at his discretion, and may publish them as he thinks fit; and such reports may contain such recommendations for action by others (including Ministers of the Crown) as in the opinion of the Commissioner are necessary or expedient.
      (2) In making recommendations under subsection (1) the Commissioner shall give reasons in the report and shall send a copy of the report to any person at whom a recommendation is directed.
      (3) If it appears to the Commissioner that a person is not complying with the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child as ratified by Her Majesty's Government he may make recommendations in the form of a compliance notice, which shall state his opinion as to the way in which provisions in the Convention are not being complied with and what action should be taken to comply.
Following up recommendations.     5. - (1) A person at whom a recommendation is directed by a Commissioner shall-
    (a) consider the recommendation; and
    (b) notify the Commissioner within three months of receiving it (or a longer period if the Commissioner agrees) of the action which has been taken or it is intended to take in response to the recommendation.
      (2) Where a person at whom a recommendation is directed intends not to comply with it he shall furnish the Commissioner with reasons for not doing so; and the Commissioner may publish the reasons.
      (3) The Commissioner may require a person at whom a recommendation is directed to furnish him with such information as may be reasonably required to verify whether the recommendation has been complied with.
      (4) Any person who fails to comply (whether wholly or partly) with a compliance notice may be required to publish that failure in such manner as the Commissioner may specify.
      (5) If the Commissioner has reasonable cause for believing that a person will not comply with subsection (4) he may-
    (a) publish the failure to comply with the notice; and
    (b) recover from that person any reasonable expenses incurred.
      (6) The Commissioner shall-
    (a) establish and maintain a register of compliance notices; and
    (b) ensure that the register may be inspected at all reasonable hours by any person.
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