HC Deb 18 March 1999 vol 327 cc787-8W
Mr. Russell Brown

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what progress has been made on implementing measures to improve the throughput of cases entering the children's hearing system; and if he will make a statement. [78045]

Mr. Galbraith

Following receipt of the "Just In Time" report in December 1997, I asked Mrs. Sally Kuenssberg, Chairman of the Scottish Children's Reporter Administration to re-form her working group to consider with the agencies concerned how best to implement the report's recommendations.

At my request, Mrs. Kuenssberg's group has now produced a blueprint to apply to all relevant agencies. It consists of a code of practice and comprehensive standards and targets for the handling of all cases referred to the hearings system, whether on grounds of offending or care and protection. I have endorsed the Blueprint which is published today. Copies have been placed in the Libraries.

The care of our children, especially those at risk, is of greatest importance. Effective and early action in co-ordinated working for children and families is widely recognised as beneficial. I am determined to see improvements in services for children and families. This blueprint offers a systematic and innovative approach to tackling both quality and timing issues.

I have been very encouraged by the wide measure of support for the principles and practical measures contained within the blueprint and now look to the agencies concerned to take forward its introduction. The targets will be a challenge for some and progress towards achieving them will secure improvements over current arrangements. The key to successful introduction and further progress on the Blueprint depends on the active co-operation between the agencies to improve the delivery of their service. The blueprint paves the way for this and I look to Chief Executives and senior managers to take action to monitor its implementation and development within their agencies.

I have asked Sally Kuenssberg's group to continue to meet periodically to assess progress and, in the light of experience, where standards and targets might be reviewed and improved upon.

From 1 July 1999, this will become a matter for the Scottish Parliament.