Common parlance for a Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration. This office was created under the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1%7 and is modelled on Swedish practice which for many years has provided for an independent arbitrator where government bureaucracy clashes with public interest. In theory, the U.K. ombudsman is available to inquire into any complaints that a member of the public may make about apparent victimization by a person acting on behalf of the government. In fact, the ombudsman’s powers are very limited and, in dealing with complaints, he relies on the disinclination of government departments to invite adverse publicity rather than on any ability to force the government to act differently.
Originally, the ombudsman’s role was restricted by his inability to inquire into areas outside those of central government departments. The position has since been partly improved by giving him authority to investigate complaints relating to the Health Service other than those which arise from the use of clinical judgement.
Additionally, complaints against local authorities are now possible since the establishment of a number of local commissioners who are effectively ombudsmen, with powers of investigation into complaints against abuse of authority by local government bodies in the areas to which they are attached. Booklets describing the remit of local ombudsmen are available from the Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner.
|Reference: The Penguin Business Dictionary, 3rd edt.|