Assembly Committee agrees general principles of Ombudsman Bill
A National Assembly committee has agreed with the general principles of the Public Services Ombudsman (Wales) Bill.
The Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee concluded the Bill's aims, to strengthen the powers of the Ombudsman, including allowing him to launch inquiries without first receiving a complaint, and investigating private healthcare organisations, were warranted and would strengthen the principles of social justice in Wales.
The Committee recommends a requirement that own initiative investigations should not be launched without full consultation with relevant regulators beforehand, and that the Ombudsman should keep a register of all complaints received, not just oral complaints.
The Committee also wants to see further detail in the financial implications of the Bill and has recommended a revised explanatory memorandum and regulatory impact assessment be introduced at the next stage of the Assembly's law-making process.
"We believe that, if this Bill became law, it would strengthen social justice in Wales by giving power to the Ombudsman to hold public organisations to account," said John Griffiths AM, Chair of the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee.
"But we want to see further provisions to avoid the risk of duplication of work between the Ombudsman and regulators by ensuring adequate consultation before own initiative investigations are undertaken.
"We also believe the Bill could benefit from more financial details and have recommended they be added at the next stage of the law-making process."
The Committee's recommendations include:
That the Member in Charge brings forward amendments at Stage 2 to place a requirement on the Ombudsman to consult with regulators before embarking on an own initiative investigation;
That the Member in Charge brings forward amendments at Stage 2 to strengthen the Welsh language duties and responsibilities; and
That the Member in Charge publishes a revised Explanatory Memorandum and Regulatory Impact Assessment before Stage 2 taking account of the Committee's recommendations.
The Bill has been proposed by the Assembly's Finance Committee following an inquiry held in the last Assembly and is the first committee-proposed Bill to be considered.
The Committee's report will now be debated in a full meeting of the Assembly before a vote to decide whether it should proceed to the next stage of the law-making process.
More information about the Public Services Ombudsman (Wales) Bill.
More information about the Assembly's law-making process.
More information about the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee.
Read the full report:
Public Services Ombudsman (Wales) Bill | Stage 1 Committee Report (PDF, 854 KB)