§ Lord Bancroft
asked Her Majesty's Government:
With reference to the Parliamentary Ombudsman's Annual Report for 1995, which records a further big increase in the total number of cases referred to him, what further steps they are taking to bring to departments' notice the existence of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information in relation to which (by contrast) very few complaints were referred.48WA
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Earl Howe)
Liaison officers were appointed in each major department and body within the jurisdiction of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration when the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information was introduced in April 1994. They are responsible for raising awareness of the code and giving guidance on best practice within their respective departments. Many departments have also produced internal guidance manuals or leaflets relating to the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.
In addition, the Office of Public Service (OPS) circulates epitomes of cases investigated by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration, and has made available to departments many thousands of copies of its leaflet explaining the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information. Training courses in Open Government are run for departmental staff at the Civil Service College.
OPS have also produced and distributed 14,000 copies of a booklet called The Ombudsman In Your Files, which is aimed at raising civil servants' awareness of the PCA's procedures and guiding them on how to avoid the malpractices that may lead to complaints. The booklet refers to the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information, and includes an Open Government case study.