I welcome the Minister’s comments and fully endorse his sentiments. I add the thanks of Her Majesty’s Opposition to the outgoing Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, Dame Julie Mellor. The Minister and I both served as members of the Health Committee, so we know of her hard work. I thank the interview panel, which was chaired by Philippa Helme, Principal Clerk of the Table Office; all the panellists were extremely formidable. I thank the Health Committee and the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee for their scrutiny at the pre-appointment hearing.
Mr Behrens is an extremely qualified candidate for the role of parliamentary and health service ombudsman, with all the expectations of that role from the public. He has shown that as the independent adjudicator and chief executive of the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for higher education, and, more importantly, in his work on the transformation to democratic rule in South Africa, for which he was personally commended by the late President Nelson Mandela and the now Lord Robin Butler. There was also his transformative work as complaints commissioner to the Bar Standards Board of England and Wales, which delivered a review that led to 52 changes in disciplinary and complaints procedures, including a new process of determination by agreement, and in setting up the widely respected civil service fast stream. Her Majesty’s Opposition welcome and endorse the appointment of Mr Rob Behrens CBE and wish him well in his new role.