I beg to move amendment 24, page 68, line 5, in schedule 1, at end insert
Establishing the ombudsman’s independence, similar to that of the chief inspector of prisons, is a priority for a range of stakeholders. The amendment would ensure that independence.
Amendment 24 relates to the appointment of the ombudsman. We have already debated the appointment of the chief inspector, and as the arguments are similar I will keep my comments brief.
Like that of the chief inspector, the appointment of prisons and probation ombudsman is subject to the Cabinet Office’s governance code for public appointments, which is regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments. It therefore follows an established transparent process for public appointments. We consider that the appointment of this critical role should rest with the Secretary of State, who is accountable to Parliament for prison and probation performance.
Like the appointment of the chief inspector, that of the prisons and probation ombudsman is subject to a pre-appointment hearing by the Justice Committee. The Justice Committee therefore already has a role in assessing its preferred candidate and providing its views to the Secretary of State. I hope Committee members agree that Parliament has an appropriate role in the public appointment process of the ombudsman, and I hope the hon. Member for Bolton South East is therefore content to withdraw the amendment.