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Public Services Ombudsmen: A Consultation - closes 3rd December 2010

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kevin's picture
Joined: 09/03/2009

The Law Commission is conducting a review of the law relating to the public services ombudsmen.  On 2 September 2010, we published a consultation paper<, which contains our detailed provisional proposals for reform.  A press release< is also available.


The public services ombudsmen have been created over the last 43 years to handle administrative complaints against public bodies, such as local authorities or central government departments.  The public services ombudsmen are:

  • Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration
  • Health Service Ombudsman
  • Public Services Ombudsman for Wales
  • Local Government Ombudsman
  • Housing Ombudsman

Their work covers almost all aspects of governmental activity, from the provision of health care or adult social care to war pensions.

The project is concerned with examining the legislative structure of the public services ombudsmen with a view to its reform.  The aim is to make recommendations with a view to reforming the legislation so that:

  • the public services ombudsmen have the tools they need to dispose of their statutory tasks in an efficient, transparent and effective manner;
  • complainants have a clear and comprehensible redress system to remedy administrative failures;
  • Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales have a stronger relationship with the public services ombudsmen.

Supporting documents

In addition to the full consultation paper, we have produced a number of supporting documents which are available to download from this page:

Responding to the consultation paper

The consultation period will run until 03 December 2010.  You can send your response in hard copy to Keith Vincent at the Law Commission, or electronically to the team<.

We emphasise that the provisional proposals put forward in the consultation paper represent our initial view about how the law should be reformed and we will be reviewing these proposals on the basis of the responses to the consultation paper.  We welcome responses from all interested parties.

For more information about our work, contact the public law team< or go to the team page<.

NOTE - We are happy to provide information about our projects.  However, we cannot give legal advice or deal with individual cases.  Nor do we provide legal research to assist with student assignments.  This does not affect your rights under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to request information.<

kevin's picture
Joined: 09/03/2009
anonymous (not verified)
anonymous's picture

Foremost amongst our recommendations are:

  • The appointment of the Parliamentary Commissioner on the nomination of an individual by Parliament.
  • Parliament, and the National Assembly for Wales in the case of the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, should develop close links between all the public services ombudsmen and appropriate select committees.
  • The repeal of legislative provisions requiring complaints to be made in writing.
  • The removal of statutory bars which restrict the ability of citizens to choose the institution for administrative redress they prefer.
  • The reform of the MP filter, so that citizens can make complaints direct to the Parliamentary Commissioner.
  • The findings of the public services ombudsmen, except the Housing Ombudsmen, should be made binding.
  • All of the public services ombudsmen should have powers allowing them to publish and distribute their reports and other materials widely.

Along with the recommendations focused on improving the current statutory regimes for the public services ombudsmen, we make one more general recommendation.  We recommend that the Government establish a wide-ranging review of the public services ombudsmen and their relationship with other institutions for administrative redress, such as courts and tribunals.

This report concludes our work on Public Services Ombudsmen.

Reference number: LC329