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Complaints

Volume 264: debated on Wednesday 18 October 1995

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To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if she will make a statement about the rights of individual members of the public to make complaints to any of the appropriate ombudsmen about services or projects funded through the private finance initiative in her Department. [36834]

The Parliamentary Ombudsman has, subject to the conditions of the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1967, jurisdiction to investigate complaints from members of the public about the way in which they have been treated by Government Departments, other public sector bodies engaged in the work of central Government and those acting on their behalf. The ombudsman can investigate complaints about projects or services funded through the private finance initiative if they are carried out by or on behalf of a Department or public body within his jurisdiction—that is, those bodies listed in schedule 2 to the 1967 Act. The Department for Education and Employment falls within the scope of schedule 2, as does the Education Assets Board and the Office for Standards in Education.I should stress that projects or services funded by the private finance initiative at individual universities, colleges and schools are unlikely to fall into the category of projects or services carried out by or on behalf of the DFEE, and therefore the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration has no role in relation to complaints about them.Under section 25 of the Local Government Act 1974, the Local Commissioner for Administration may investigate complaints about local authorities and those acting on their behalf. The local ombudsman can therefore investigate complaints about projects or services funded through the private finance initiative if they are carried out by or on behalf of a local education authority in the exercise of its administrative functions.