HC Deb 24 March 1970 vol 798 cc1203-4
Q2. Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

asked the Prime Minister if he has considered the conclusion reached in the Second Report of the Select Committee on the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration 1969–70 relating to matters excluded from the Parliamentary Commissioner's investigation; and whether he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister

I would refer the hon. Member to what my right hon.

Friend the Minister without Portfolio said in reply to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Rose) on 17th March.—[Vol. 798, c. 100–1.]

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

Is the Prime Minister aware of the high proportion of complaints relating to personnel cases which came in last year and which no doubt are still coming in? Will he see that this matter is treated with some urgency?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir; I accept what the hon. Gentleman says. In fact, about 10 per cent. of new cases received by the Parliamentary Commissioner were rejected under the exclusions which have been commented upon in the distinguished report by the hon. Gentleman's Committee. Obviously, we pay great attention to the authority of the Committee over which the hon. Gentleman presides, but we have not yet reached a decision on the matter.

Mr. Rose

Apart from broadening the scope of the matters which may be investigated by the Parliamentary Commissioner, would my right hon. Friend carefully consider the Swedish system, whereby the Commissioner on his own initiative can investigate matters and so keep both Ministers and civil servants permanently on their toes?

The Prime Minister

I think the right thing is what the House has decided; namely, that the Parliamentary Commissioner should operate within the Act laid down by this Parliament, with the exclusions, and there must be certain exclusions. We have the further safeguard of a Select Committee of this House which receives reports from the Ombudsman. I believe this to be the best system. But since the Committee under the chairmanship of the hon. Member for Hendon, South (Sir H. Lucas-Tooth) has made suggestions for widening the scope of the Parliamentary Commissioner, then obviously it is for the Government to consider this matter with the respect that we feel for that Committee.