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Volume 615: debated on Monday 17 October 2016

The UK state party is a proud signatory of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and today I want to reinforce this commitment.

The articles under the UNCRC set out a vision that all children—regardless of background or circumstance—develop their full potential, free from hunger and want, neglect and abuse. These principles reflect our own drive and commitment to social mobility and the ambitious reforms we each lead to ensure that Britain is country that works for everyone.

The 5th periodic reporting cycle with the United Nations concluded in June 2016. The UN Committee scrutinised the UK state party’s progress in implementing the CRC since our last report in 2008, and in July 2016 published their concluding observations.

I welcome these concluding observations. They recognise the great strides we have taken to make sure that all children have the opportunity to flourish and grow. For example, efforts taken to improve mental health services, improvements to law to ensure that children live in safe and loving environments, improvements to supporting and protecting asylum-seeking children and ensuring that all children have access to high-quality education. Indeed, all Government Departments play a role in building a society where everyone has fair and equal opportunities to go as far as their talent and their hard work will allow. And our policies recognise that children are far from secondary in this vision.

Alongside the celebration of our achievements, the Committee also offered recommendations on areas that require additional attention or greater push for change. As we each look to our ambitious programmes of reform to make sure that Britain is a country that works for everyone, I encourage you to reflect on these recommendations; for example, by reflecting the voice of the child fully in the design and implementation of policy.

Both the UNCRC articles and concluding recommendations serve as a helpful and important guide to making sure that our policies—whether they hold direct or indirect consequences—consider children.

My Department will issue the Committee’s concluding recommendations across Whitehall this week. I encourage all Departments to read these recommendations and take them into account as we work together to achieve social mobility.