Children’s Minister Debate

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Baroness D'Souza

Main Page: Baroness D'Souza (Crossbench - Life peer)

Children’s Minister

Baroness D'Souza Excerpts
Wednesday 6th December 2023

(7 months, 3 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
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Asked by
Baroness D'Souza Portrait Baroness D'Souza
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To ask His Majesty’s Government what further consideration they have given to the appointment of a Children’s Minister at Cabinet level to coordinate cross-departmental Government programmes concerning the welfare of children.

Lord Gascoigne Portrait Lord Gascoigne (Con)
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My Lords, the Government are committed to placing the best interests of children at the centre of policy and decision-making. The Secretary of State for Education has a statutory duty to promote the well-being of children in England. The needs of children are generally best met through services, with one area of focus overseen by the relevant department. For those with multiple, overlapping needs, systems and programmes are put in place to enable join-up.

Baroness D'Souza Portrait Baroness D'Souza (CB)
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My Lords, I thank the Minister for his response. The welfare of children, from formal education to special needs, diet, care and protection, is covered by many different government and non-ministerial departments and agencies. We have to assume that much of this necessary work exists in silos, with few genuine joined-up initiatives. Children’s needs can and do fall into the gaps, and no one department might have the clout to fund and implement broad cross-cutting programmes. There is therefore an urgent need to insist on child welfare in all policy development, and a cross-departmental child health and welfare strategy. This is why a Cabinet Minister solely there to champion the cause of children at all levels and in many different ways is vital. Does the Minister agree?

Lord Gascoigne Portrait Lord Gascoigne (Con)
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I am grateful to the noble Baroness for once again raising this issue of welfare and the support of children in this country. I recognise that she may not agree with what I have to say, but I ask respectfully that she bear with me on this. Although the Secretary of State for Education has a statutory duty to promote the well-being of children in England, the Secretary of State is not the only person with an interest. Speaking from my own personal experience, the support of children and crucially the network around a child goes far beyond any one person and department. Every department has a role to play in the welfare of a child and in supporting families to provide an environment where children can thrive. That is why, for example, the Government introduced the family test, to think about how policy can impact on family life and relationships. I assure the noble Baroness that the Government take the welfare and support of young people as a priority. Just quickly, there are a number of examples I can give. The £2 million—