CIVIL

History of Ombudsmen

In De Smith, Woolf and Jowell’s Judicial Review of Administrative Action, Fifth edition, at page 41 the following pas- sage appears:

Long before some of the developments described above arose, the concept of an Ombudsman for Britain came to attract interest. Situations where decisions by departments directly affecting individuals were taken without any statutory requirement of a hearing by a Tribunal or at an inquiry- Crichel Down was such a situation-had lain outside the terms of reference of the Franks Committee. Political representations made to Ministers about the decisions taken in their names were liable to be ineffective because the true facts might be unknown (even, sometimes, to the Ministers themselves) or because of the circumstances in which the representations were made. In 1958, the year following the publication of the Franks Report, the Danish Ombudsman (for Parliamentary Commissioner for Civil and Military Administration) made a lecture tour of Britain, describing his duties of surveillance over administration. His visit stimulated further investigations. In 1960 Justice, the British branch of the International Commission of Juristis, commissioned and inquiry into the existing means for investigating complaints against administrative acts and decisions where there was no Tribunal or other statutory procedure available for dealing with the complaints. The inquiry, which was conducted by Sir John Whyatt working under a small committee, was also to be directed to the consideration of possible reforms, with particular reference to the institution of the Ombudsman. In 1961 the Whyatt Report recommended, inter alia, the appointment of a Parliamentary Commissioner with a status comparable to that of the Comptroller and Auditor-General and with functions similar (but far from identical) to those of the Danish Ombudsman.

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