Is she up to the job?

21st November 2003 at 00:00
What is the approval rating for Margaret Hodge's performance as children's minister:

Demetrious Panton, the child abuse victim Mrs Hodge called "extremely disturbed""I was looking forward to having a minister for children, who would fight for children's rights, and put them on the top of the political agenda.

"I didn't expect that the top of the political agenda would be the minister calling me extremely disturbed. Young people need someone who champions their cause. They don't need a downgraded minister."

Margaret Morrissey, spokeswoman for the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations

"She may be able, but it's difficult for parents to have confidence in someone who seems in the past to have ignored the voice of children. She feels the job is important. We share her commitment. But to ensure it gets the best voice, it may be she needs to stand aside and let someone else do it."

Peter Wilson, director of Young Minds, a charity working to promote the mental health of children and young people

"The post signals that the Government is putting children very high on their agenda. A large part of me doesn't want to disrupt that process. Mrs Hodge played a key part in setting up Sure Start, which has been an extraordinarily important government initiative. She has done a great deal for children."

Annabel McLeod, 17, journalist on Children's Express, the news agency for young people aged eight to 18, who recently interviewed Mrs Hodge

"The Government still claims to have full confidence in her, but if you asked the young people she's meant to represent, I'm not sure they'd agree.

The majority have never heard of her, let alone know that she was the person who was meant to represent them. If any of those young people read the papers or watch the news, they'll definitely know who she is now and it won't be because of what she's done for them. Do we really want such a person as our representative?"

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