HC Deb 06 January 2004 vol 416 c293W
Mr. Edwards

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills when he will publish the Government's response to the report, "Making Contact Work"; and if he will make a statement. [144491]

Margaret Hodge

The Children Act Sub-Committee published their report, "Making Contact Work", in February 2002. The then Lord Chancellor's Department published its interim response in August 2002. Following the Machinery of Government changes last year, I now have lead responsibility for child contact issues. We continue to view children's interests as being paramount and we want to encourage contact between children and non-resident parents where it is in the best interest of the child and safe for all family members.

Working with my hon. Friends in the Department for Constitutional Affairs, we are considering carefully how the family justice system and related children's services can better meet the needs of all children and their parents following relationship breakdown. We want to ensure that better outcomes are achieved for children by, where possible, helping parents agree contact arrangements without the intervention of the courts. We expect to conclude these considerations early in the New Year and that the Government's response to "Making Contact Work" will then be published.