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William Wragg acts as Parliamentary Ombudsman Office faces life without a boss

William Wragg, the Tory chair of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC), has belatedly intervened in the growing crisis over the failure of the Prime Minister to appoint a new Parliamentary Ombudsman to replace Rob Behrens who quits the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman on 31 March 2024.

In a letter published on the committee’s website, Mr Wragg asks Sir Alex Allan, the senior non executive director on the Parliamentary and Heath Services Ombudsman board, what measures will be taken to keep the office going and what is going to happen to people who, via their MP, want to lodge a complaint to the Ombudsman. He also raises whether reports can be published and complaints investigated. 

The letter discloses that recruitment for a new Ombudsman began last October and a panel chose the winning candidate at the beginning of January. Since then the Cabinet Office and Rishi Sunak, who has to approve the appointment, have not responded. The silence from Whitehall and Downing Street means no motion can be put to Parliament appointing a new Ombudsman, who then appears before the PACAC for a pre appointment hearing. PACAC has only a couple of weeks to set up the hearing.

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Source: Westminster Confidential, 12 March 2024


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