HC Deb 16 October 1995 vol 264 cc170-1W
Mr. Betts

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if she will make a statement about the rights of individual members of the public to make complaints to any of the appropriate ombudsman about services or projects funded through the private finance initiative in her Department. [36829]

Mr. Sproat

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 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 which are listed in schedule 2 to the 1967 Act.

The Department itself has no capital projects so does not engage directly in the private finance initiative. However, its two agencies, the Royal Parks agency and the Historic Royal Palaces agency, have a substantial number of private finance initiative projects, for activities ranging form car park systems to restaurant refurbishment. Both agencies are under the jurisdiction of the parliamentary ombudsman and so members of the public are able to pursue complaints about the agencies' services or projects funded by the private finance initiative through this avenue.

The Department is also contributing to the new Royal Armouries museum in Leeds, a private finance initiative scheme due to open in spring 1996. This is being financed in partnership with a private company, Royal Armouries (International) plc. The Royal Armouries does not come under the jurisdiction of the parliamentary ombudsman, so members of the public are unable to make complaints through this avenue. However, the Royal Armouries will have in place at the new museum a charter standard statement which will explain to members of the public how they can complain to the Master of the Armouries if they are dissatisfied with the museum related services they receive.