Part of Orders of the Day — Health Service Commissioners (Amendment) Bill – in the House of Commons at 7:01 pm on 25 January 1996.

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Photo of Henry McLeish Henry McLeish , Central Fife 7:01, 25 January 1996

I beg to move amendment No. 3, in page 5, line 44, at end insert— '(2A) After subsection (1) insert—(1A) Before making the report of the results of an investigation the Commissioner—

  1. (a) shall send a draft factual summary of the matters investigated, excluding his findings and recommendations, to the person and body referred to in paragraphs (a) to (c) in subsection (1) above, and shall give them an opportunity to indicate any factual inaccuracies or omissions;
  2. (b) may, for purposes specified by him, send to the person and body referred to in paragraphs (a) to (c) in subsection (1) above, a draft of either his findings or his proposed recommendations or both, but shall not send such draft to one party only.".'.
Again, I do not want to detain the House on this item. It was discussed extensively in Committee and the Minister has provided a helpful letter to my hon. Friends regarding the commissioner's views.

The amendment was tabled merely to ensure a completely level playing field. At present, the summary of facts is submitted to the complainant, but it was felt that all the details should be passed to the complainant at the conclusion of the case because the factual content of the initial summary provided to the complainant by the commissioner and that of the final report could differ.

Clearly, the ombudsman has said that he would be happier for the power to be left with him to allow him to use his discretion under section 11 of the Health Service Commissioners Act 1993 and we have the greatest confidence in Mr. Reid. No criticism is implied by our amendment; it is merely designed to find out whether the Minister wants to consider the matter further to ensure that we take away the feeling of bitterness and anger in any complaints procedure—the feeling that there is not a level playing field—which would surely help the procedure. I ask the Minister to respond on the basis of those brief comments.