HC Deb 24 February 1998 vol 307 c199W
Mr. Ernie Ross

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on what measures he is taking to speed up the throughput of cases entering the children's hearing system. [31501]

Mr. Galbraith

Last July I invited Mrs. Sally Kuenssberg, Chairman of the Scottish Children's Reporter Administration, to form a working group to investigate what could be done to reduce the time interval between a case being referred to the children's reporter and disposal by a children's hearing. The group has now reported and I have today placed a copy of the report "Just in Time" in the House Library.

The report is a valuable analysis of the delays experienced in the hearings system and puts forward many constructive suggestions for overcoming them. I have endorsed the general approach in the report and have written to the key agencies concerned to encourage inter-agency co-operation wherever possible.

The report makes 74 recommendations, some of which can be implemented immediately through the Administration. For the remainder, I have asked Mrs. Kuenssberg's group to take forward this work in consultation with the agencies concerned and to consider what practical measures might be taken to implement these in the medium and long term. The group will initially have one year to undertake this work and I have asked for an interim report by September.