To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what were the reasons for the delay in bringing the Children (Northern Ireland) Order into force; and if he will make a statement. 
I do not recognise that there will be any unnecessary delay in implementing the Children Order. As I told the House during the debate on the draft order on 8 February at column 427 we envisaged the order coming into operation during the 1996–97 financial year. It has been agreed with all agencies involved that the new legislation will come into operation in October 1996. Substantial preparatory work is necessary across all the statutory and voluntary agencies involved. This work, which includes the training of staff in a wide range of disciplines, the creation of a guardian ad litem service and the preparation of a considerable volume of regulations, guidance and court rules, is proceeding according to plan.