Monday, November 21, 2005

Not only seen and heard, but paid... Scotland, are the children:

YOUNG people are to be paid to tell Scotland's new children's "tsar" how to do her job. Professor Kathleen Marshall, the commissioner for children and young people, has set aside more than £10,000 to pay "participation fees" to young people in focus groups.

Prof Marshall is planning to spend another £10,000 on an award scheme for adults who are judged to be "children's champions". And she has set aside more than £4,000 - including £1,600 for storytellers and a visual artist - as part of her plan to ask children "what matters to them".

Fortunately there appear to be a few grown-ups left:

[Members of the Scottish Parliament] on the finance committee last night refused to comment on the spending plans, preferring to keep their questions for tomorrow, when the professor gives evidence. However, there is considerable concern in private over the commissioner's spending of public money.

The Scotsman asked Prof Marshall to give more detail of the numbers of youngsters involved in the schemes, and how much they were to be paid individually, but she was unable to so. Her office also could not give further details on the "children's champions" awards.

Prof Marshall was last week criticised by members of the finance committee and the Scottish Parliament's corporate body, the SPCB, over her spending plans.

Now, when is someone going to criticize the notion of an official Big Sister?

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