§ Mr. Coaker
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when she plans to publish the fourth report of the Chief Child Support Officer; and if she will make a statement. 
§ Ms Harman
I am today publishing the Annual Report of the Chief Child Support Officer for the year 1996–97. This report records the outcome of the monitoring of decision making in the Child Support Agency during 1996–97 by the Chief Child Support Officer, who reports to me on standards of adjudication. The Report indicates that there is still cause for concern, but that progress has been made. Twenty-two per cent. of decisions monitored had resulted in a child support liability that was wrong in cash terms but more than half had been decided in a way that did not meet all the requirements of the legislation. In his foreword, the Chief Child Support Officer comments oncontinuing improvement but with some way to go before standards are acceptable widely".
While we are aware that much still needs to be done, we acknowledge the progress which this Report reflects. All children have the right to the care and support of both their parents wherever they may live. Child support tackles child poverty and can also offer lone mothers the opportunity to provide for themselves and their children 300W by working, rather than relying on benefits. The effective operation of the child support scheme is essential to ensure these rights and provide these opportunities.
I expect to see continuing progress both as the result of continued efforts by Child Support Agency staff and, in due course, as the provisions in the Social Security Bill are implemented. However, we will be looking closely at the operation of the Child Support Agency in the coming months to ensure that it provides an efficient and effective service to all its clients.