Martin Partington: Spotlight on the Justice System

Keeping the English Legal System under review

Removing the MP Filter

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One of the curiosities of the Ombudsman in this country is that members of the public are not permitted to take complaints about government maladministration direct to her. They have to start by going to their Member of Parliament; only if the MP agrees to refer the case will the Ombudsman be able to take it on. (The ‘filter’ does not apply to her health service complaints.)

For many years, it has been argued that the filter is unnecessary and this summer the Ombudsman consulted on whether the time had come to remove the filter. Today, she reports that the overwhelming consensus of opinion is that this time has come.

Following a recent report from the Law Commission, calling for a more general review of public service ombudsmen, it seems as though there might be an opportunity to make the requsite changes to the law. It won’t happen overnight – but would be a sensible reform that would improve access to the Ombudsman.

For access to the Ombudsman report go to http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/2011/new-report-from-parliamentary-ombudsman-says-reform-of-the-mp-filter-is-long-overdue

For the Law Commission report see http://www.justice.gov.uk/lawcommission/publications/ombudsmen.htm

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Written by lwtmp

November 17, 2011 at 6:03 pm

Posted in chapter 6

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