Debates on the Floor of the House about the Parliamentary Ombudsman

E. Colville made this Freedom of Information request to House of Commons

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was successful.

Dear House of Commons,

Understanding that approximately one-third of all reports published by select committees will be debated on the Floor of the House, please provide the following information:

1. The number of committee recommendations for a Floor debate on the PHSO in the last ten years.
2. The number of debates about the PHSO in the Chamber in the last ten years.
3. Figures on attendance at any such debates.
4. Evidence regarding levels of participation in any such debates.
5. Average length of any such debates.
6. The demand currently for debates on the PHSO.

Thank you.

Yours faithfully,

E. Colville

E. Colville left an annotation ()

I originally made a non-public request for some of this information to the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) on 13 Jan 2015. I sent a follow-up email on 2 Feb 2015. Neither request was acknowledged.

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Over to the ICO straight away E Colville - if you dont get a response.

The ICO may rubber-stamp it - but the following grc Tribunal is free ....and you get some sense.

FOICOMMONS, House of Commons

1 Attachment

Dear E. Colville,

 

 

Thank you for your request for information dated 8 March 2015, received by
us on the 9 March 2015, which is copied below.

 

When a General Election is called, Parliament is dissolved and there is no
‘House of Commons’ for the purposes of the Freedom of Information 2000 Act
(FOIA).  As a result, there is no public authority to which the 20 working
day response deadline is capable of applying.  The time limits are
therefore suspended during the period of dissolution and resume when the
House of Commons first meets following the General Election.

 

As your request was received before the House dissolves, the time
remaining on your request will resume when the House returns after the
General Election.

 

Further information about the FOIA and Dissolution can be found on our web
pages here:
[1]http://www.parliament.uk/site-informatio....

 

In the meantime, if you have any queries about your request, please
contact us quoting the request number in the subject line of this email.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Sarah Price | IRIS Support Officer
Information Rights and Information Security (IRIS) Service | House of
Commons

[2]cid:image002.jpg@01D02B64.34D76640

2015 marks 10 years of the Freedom of Information Act.

Click [3]here for information about FOI in the House of Commons,

or to see what we publish.

 

 

 

 

 

show quoted sections

Dear Ms Price,

Thank you for your reply in response to my FOI request.

You may not have read my annotation to the request of yesterday:

"I originally made a non-public request for some of this information to the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) on 13 Jan 2015. I sent a follow-up email on 2 Feb 2015. Neither request was acknowledged" Link to this:
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/d...

In the circumstances, a delay of more than six months for Parliament to substantially respond to an access request establishes a prima facie breach of the Act.

Is there not scope to fast-track it ?

Yours sincerely,

E. Colville

Tim Turner left an annotation ()

Absolutely nothing to stop the House of Commons responding before the dissolution, 20 days being a maximum and not a target.

E. Colville left an annotation ()

Thanks and agreed Tim Turner.

It's not unreasonable to speculate that, with growing calls for the Ombudsman to resign - see for example here: https://swwhag.wordpress.com/2015/03/08/... - it may be convenient for Parliament to delay their response.

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Presumably ...since no one can answer this old request...and have no work to do, since Parliament dissolved, the information department are all on unpaid leave during this period?

Otherwise, as the response indicates , it would be a tremendous waste of public money paying the salaries of people who cannot do their jobs.

E. Colville left an annotation ()

Thank you JT Oakley. Points and inferences well made. It's obviously difficult to reconcile the arguments of the HoC FOI Unit with the fact I have correspondence from select committee clerks going back to 2010 which shows that the House Authorities do not stop working when the HoC goes into dissolution or recess. It's therefore bizarre to be led to believe that there is an implied 'waiver' for the FOI Team in terms of compliance with response deadlines during recess or dissolution of Parliament.

CA Purkis left an annotation ()

This must rate as the most bizarre answer to a FOIA request I have ever seen.

As you have already requested this information - albeit not on this public forum, they are still liable,to answer within the statutory period from date of receipt.
I believe they are now overdue in their response to you.

I wrote a non public email to the Tsol and followed it up on WDTK

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/c...
Mr Woods still answered within the period from date of non public request receipt.

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

On Twitter as ' Bizarre Foi answer'....

FOICOMMONS, House of Commons

1 Attachment

Dear Ms Colville,

 

 

Freedom of Information Request F15-123

 

Thank you for your request for information as copied below.  You asked a
number of questions regarding debates on the Floor of the House about the
Parliamentary Ombudsman, which we have sought to answer below.

 

1.   The number of committee recommendations for a Floor debate on the
PHSO in the last ten years.

 

This information is not held by the House of Commons.  Whilst PASC reports
have been highlighted during the debates mentioned below, we are not aware
of any specific recommendations (from the Public Administration Select
Committee) relating to the PHSO being debated.

 

You may wish to note that the Committee’s most recent reports into the
PHSO: Time for a People’s Ombudsman and More Complaints Please!  are still
awaiting a substantive Government response.

 

2.   The number of debates about the PHSO in the Chamber in the last ten
years.

 

Parliamentary Search highlights two debates, and a statement, over the
past ten years, in the Commons Chamber, of which the Ombudsman has been a
subject.  You can see the results online [1]here.

 

03/03/2015 STATEMENT: Maternity Services (Morecambe Bay)

06/02/2014 DEBATE: Mrs M. Barnes (NHS Treatment)

18/07/2011 DEBATE: Parliamentary Commission for Administration and Health
Service Commissioner for England   (Appointment)

 

Please note that as information systems have evolved over the years,
approaches to storing information relating to Parliamentary material have
also changed.  This can mean that the data is not strictly comparable over
time. Due to the large volume of Parliamentary data, and particularly
where automated processes are not available (or have failed) and manual
interventions are required, there will be a level of error.  However, the
Indexing and Data Management Section (IDMS) of the Commons Library make
every effort to ensure that the data available is accurate and up to date.

 

3.   Figures on attendance at any such debates.

 

Figures on debate attendance are not held by the House of Commons however,
attendance at votes is recorded in Hansard should a division be held. 
This can be used to gain a good idea of Members in attendance at a debate.

 

The information you require on levels of participation is already publicly
available on the Parliamentary website. Transcripts of debates and
statements made in the House and in Committees are recorded in the
Official Report, known as Hansard.  The direct link is available here:
[2]http://www.parliament.uk/business/public... This
record indicates who has spoken within each debate.   

 

4.   Evidence regarding levels of participation in any such debates.

 

The information you require is already publicly available on the
Parliamentary website. Transcripts of debates and statements made in the
House and in Committees are recorded in the Official Report, known as
Hansard.  The direct link is available here:
[3]http://www.parliament.uk/business/public...

 

Hansard is normally available on the web site at 8.00 am on the next
working day. It is easiest to access material by date (and column number),
but if you do not know the date there is also a search engine.
Alternatively, the House of Commons Information Office can perform a
search for you using the parliamentary database.  The Information Office
can be contacted on 0207 219 4272.

 

Hansard can also be searched by Member and view contributions made by MPs
during the current session, sorted by date or subject heading. The direct
link can be found here:
[4]http://www.parliament.uk/business/public...

 

In addition, from the parliament home page you can access the text of
debates shortly after they have taken place via the 'Today in the Commons'
link which can be accessed at:
[5]http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa...

 

5.   Average length of any such debates.

 

The average length of the debates were as follows:

 

03/03/2015  STATEMENT: Maternity Services (Morecambe Bay)—45 mins

06/02/2014  DEBATE: Mrs M. Barnes (NHS Treatment)—29 mins

18/07/2011  DEBATE: Parliamentary Commission for Administration and Health
Service Commissioner for England(Appointment)—56 mins

 

6.   The demand currently for debates on the PHSO.

 

This information is not held by the House of Commons.

 

It may also help you to know that once a report and government response
has been published the Committee has the option of recommending it for
debate. These debates mainly take place in Westminster Hall on Thursday
afternoons, but on three days in each Session (so called “Estimates Days”)
reports may be debated on the floor of the House. You can read through the
[6]Sessional Return to see a list of reports that have been tagged to a
debate in the House. 

 

 

You may, if dissatisfied with the handling of your request, complain to
the House of Commons.  Alternatively, if you are dissatisfied with the
outcome of your request you may ask the House of Commons to conduct an
internal review of any decision regarding your request.  Complaints or
requests for internal review should be addressed to: Information Rights
and Information Security Service, Department of HR and Change, House of
Commons, London SW1A 0AA or [7][House of Commons request email].  Please ensure
that you specify the full reasons for your complaint or internal review
along with any arguments or points that you wish to make.

 

If you remain dissatisfied, you may appeal to the Information Commissioner
at Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF,
[8]www.ico.gov.uk.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

         
IRIS Officer
Information Rights and Information Security (IRIS) Service | House of
Commons

 

[9]cid:image002.jpg@01D02B64.34D76640

2015 marks 10 years of the Freedom of Information Act.

Click [10]here for information about FOI in the House of Commons,

or to see what we publish.

 

 

 

show quoted sections

D. Speers left an annotation ()

INTERESTING FOI E.Colville
Its on Twitter now too!

D. Speers left an annotation ()

Thank you for this FOI request .....very interesting!

E. Colville left an annotation ()

http://phsothetruestory.com/2015/11/17/d...

I have absolutely nothing against hedgehogs or any other animal worthy of protection. However, in terms of Parliament's time to hear debates on matters of importance to citizens, it must be concluded that hedgehogs take precedence over the deplorable state of the administrative justice landscape in this country. In particular, citizens' deeply held concerns about PHSO.
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa...
http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?i...

E. Colville left an annotation ()

Some interesting observations on HC debates on the Parliamentary Ombudsman in this 1999 debate:
http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commo..., including the following from Desmond Browne:

"The first element in my argument is that the House of Commons has paid insufficient regard to the work of the ombudsman in the past, so we should not be surprised by the lack of awareness among the general public and newly elected Members of Parliament. It is widely recognised that, among other functions, debates in the Chamber serve to enhance parliamentary awareness of issues. It is now almost five years since the last debate on the work of the ombudsman, and I share other hon. Members' dismay at that delay.

In opening the last debate on the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration, Mr. James Pawsey, then Chairman of the Select Committee, said: “I welcome this debate; the first since 1991. Clearly that is far too long an interval and the House should be given greater opportunity to consider the work of the Parliamentary and National Health Service Commissioners."—[Official Report, 15 December 1994; Vol. 251, c. 1125.]” When responding to that debate, the then Parliamentary Secretary, Office of Public Service and Science could give neither Mr. Pawsey nor other hon. Members who had raised the same point any assurance that there would be any more regular debates on the issue. However, I am sure that, were the former Minister still a Member of Parliament, he would be asking himself these questions: why is it now almost five years since the last debate on the work of the ombudsman, and how seriously does the House of Commons take that work, given that such irregular debates take place?

I recognise that, to an increasing extent, much of the valuable work carried out by and in the House of Commons is done outside the Chamber. However, given the nature of the service provided by the parliamentary ombudsman to Members of Parliament, one would have thought that a rare debate on the report of the Select Committee on the ombudsman's reports to the House would have attracted an audience and participation significantly wider than the members of the Select Committee itself.

I do not want to be misunderstood or misinterpreted—I am not arguing for the cancellation of debates if they do not attract the attention of many hon. Members besides the members of a specific Committee, supported by a few others with special interests or Front-Bench responsibilities. Debates such as today's—sparsely attended or not—at least have the intrinsic merit that they attract to the Dispatch Box a Minister who is briefed on the issues of the day……"

Fiona Watts left an annotation ()

Little did we realise that the Labour MP's words in 1999 would still ring true today;

"However, it is also a source of regret—even shame—for the House that there has been no debate on the work of the ombudsmen in this Parliament".

Thank you for an excellent FOI. Best wishes to you & all that do on here and with the PHSO Pressure Group!