Children's Rights Commissioner Bill - continued        House of Commons

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Investigations.     6. - (1) The Commissioner may conduct a formal investigation for any purpose connected with the carrying out of his duties.
 
      (2) For the purposes of a formal investigation the Commissioner may require any person who possesses documents or information relevant to the investigation to-
 
 
    (a) produce such documents;
 
    (b) furnish the information in writing;
 
    (c) attend at a specified time and place and give oral information.
      (3) No person shall be compelled under subsection (2) to give information or produce documents which he could not be compelled to give or produce in civil proceedings before the High Court.
 
      (4) The Commissioner shall prepare and publish a report of his findings in any formal investigation and shall include in it such recommendations as appear to him to be necessary or expedient.
 
Child impact statements.     7. - (1) Whenever it appears necessary or expedient to the Commissioner, he may require a Minister of the Crown to provide a child impact statement relating to any decision or proposal on policy which the Minister has made and which affects or may affect children.
 
      (2) A child impact statement under subsection (1) shall set out the probable impact in the Minister's opinion on children of the decision or proposal to which the statement relates; and the Minister shall cause the statement to be published.
 
      (3) Where the Commissioner publishes his opinions with regard to a child impact statement and requests the Minister who provided the statement to respond to these opinions, the Minister shall comply with that request.
 
Complaints procedures.     8. - (1) The Commissioner may require any person who is under a statutory duty to establish, operate or supervise any procedure for the consideration of representations or complaints to provide such information as can reasonably be obtained about the number, nature and outcomes of representations or complaints made by or on behalf of children.
 
      (2) The Commissioner may request such information from any person who has established, operates or supervises any other procedure for the consideration of representations or complaints.
 
      (3) Information provided to the Commissioner under subsection (1) or (2) shall not identify any person who has made a representation or complaint.
 
Other powers and functions.     9. - (1) Where the Commissioner considers it necessary or expedient for the carrying out of his duties, he may-
 
 
    (a) publish and disseminate information about children;
 
    (b) undertake or assist (financially or otherwise) the undertaking by other persons of any research;
 
    (c) give assistance to a child or to a person acting on behalf of a child, which may include giving advice (including legal advice) or arranging for legal advice or for legal representation;
 
    (d) give financial or other assistance to any organisation for the purpose of encouraging the promotion by children of the interests of children.
      (2) In deciding whether to give assistance under subsection (1)(c) the Commissioner shall have regard to-
 
 
    (a) the availability of such assistance elsewhere;
 
    (b) whether in the Commissioner's opinion an important question of principle is involved; and
 
    (c) what is in the Commissioner's opinion the most efficient and effective means for the discharge of his duties.
Legal proceedings and inquiries.     10. Where the Commissioner considers it necessary or expedient for the promotion or protection of the interests or rights of children, he may-
 
 
    (a) prosecute or defend or appear in any legal proceedings and, in the case of civil proceedings, institute them in his own name;
 
    (b) in his own name make representations in the interests of children at any public inquiry held by or on behalf of a Minister or public body under any enactment.
Legislation affecting children.     11. - (1) If a Minister of the Crown proposes-
 
 
    (a) to present a Bill which seeks to amend or repeal the whole or part of an enactment which significantly affects children; or
 
    (b) to make a statutory instrument under any provision of an enactment where that provision significantly affects children
       he shall first consult the Commissioner.
 
      (2) The Secretary of State may by order specify which enactments and which provisions of which enactments are to be taken as significantly affecting children for the purposes of subsection (1).
 
      (3) When the Commissioner is consulted under subsection (1) he shall-
 
 
    (a) consider the Minister's proposals; and
 
    (b) publish his response
       and the Minister shall have regard to that response.
 
 
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Prepared 3 April 2001