For Answer 16 July 2002

For Answer 16 July 2002

Q12 Alison Halford:

 What recent discussion has the First Minister had with the Secretary of State for Wales regarding the review of ombudsman services in Wales’s consultation process? (OAQ18998)


The First Minister:

This subject has come up recently because of the retirement of the present Welsh administration ombudsman and health services ombudsman, Sir Michael Buckley. He presented his last annual report as the ombudsman for Wales this morning. He will retire shortly. The succession arrangements that need to be put in place are unexpectedly complex. I have had many discussions about this, because a legislative solution may be required. We hope to find a neat legislative solution to Sir Michael Buckley’s retirement and the succession problem, following his enormously distinguished service during the Assembly’s first three years.

 

Alison Halford:

 I was always rather rude about Sir Michael Buckley, and referred to him as ‘Six Hats Buckley’. Do you agree that there is a degree of slippage with regard to what you wanted to do in Wales with the review of the ombudsman services? What can be done to reduce that slippage?The First Minister: It is important that everybody accepts that the right solution is a college of ombudsmen, or ombudspersons, to cover local government, the health service and general administration issues, including freedom of information. We voluntarily gave the task of arbitrating on disputes over freedom of information to the ombudsman. If we can find the right route, by legislation or by other means, to get these ombudsmen into a collegiate format, the job would be a more attractive proposition to potential suitable applicants.

Alun Cairns:

The use of an ombudsman is one way to ensure propriety and efficiency in public services, but will you audit the promises and commitments that will arise from yesterday’s comprehensive spending review?The Presiding Officer: Order. That question does not relate to ombudsmen.

 

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