The Government value the role and work of the parliamentary ombudsman. They also believe that Members of Parliament have an important role to play in assisting constituents with concerns about their dealings with Government Departments and public bodies.
One of the great achievements of a previous Labour Government was to introduce the parliamentary ombudsman system, against the resistance of elements of the Conservative party. Is it not now time to give citizens direct access to the ombudsman, as has been recommended by successive occupants of the office?
I have known my hon. Friend for longer than nearly any other MP, and his former agent, Jack Fleming, from the time of the former Labour Government of the 1970s, would have been proud of my hon. Friend’s work to improve the machinery of government. Sometimes, I have to say that it seems that we have been discussing the ombudsman for that long as well. We know that 134 MPs said that they wanted to remove the MP filter, but I cannot honestly say to my hon. Friend that that is the settled will of the House. To be honest with him, I would also have to say that there is no settled view in Government either, but I undertake to take soundings from Members again to ensure that their views are properly reflected when we come to make our decision.